Dawn Louise Browning Lester Gortsema, 89

Our mom and sister…. a special lady that lived life fully and enjoyed every minute she could either antiquing (anyone who knew her knew her love of salt dips, butter pats and anything china related), growing flowers, feeding or watching birds or traveling the highways and backroads. She was always up for a family get together, telling stories of her life experiences or “trying out a new road” just to “see where it goes.”

Dawn Louise Browning Lester Gortsema was born March 11, 1932, on the north Camas Prairie near Grangeville, Idaho to Oscar and Muriel (Baker) Browning Elmen. She peacefully followed the road to heaven Thursday, October 14, 2021 at the age of 89, at Tender Care in Clarkston.

In 1934, at 2 years old, Dawn rode in a rumble seat to the World’s Fair in Chicago from Grangeville. Her sister Janice Browning Inghram of Grangeville joined the family in 1940. She attended school at the Delaney Country School and Grangeville High School.

In 1949, she married Ted Lester. They had 3 children, J. Craig Lester, Laurie Lester and Wes Lester. While Ted was stationed in the Coast Guard in Connecticut, Dawn worked at Montgomery Ward sewing jeans. She also worked at Madison Lumber (now Grangeville Lumber) and later for Drs. Rockwell and Greenwood. Dawn was in Busy Homemakers and active in the Cowbelles. She and Ted were also very active in The Grange during their marriage. They later divorced.

In 1973, she married John E. Gortsema of Grangeville. They enjoyed many years of traveling and adventures. She has traveled all over the US and parts of Mexico as well as the Caribbean and has been on many cruises including through the Panama Canal. After the passing of her husband John in 2006, she traveled to Brazil with her son Craig and his daughter Brooke. Dawn loved driving and loved to help John at the trailer sales by going to get travel trailers at the manufacturer. Rarely did she come home without being pulled over. In her words “I was famous for speeding tickets.” In 1980, John and Dawn retired and moved to Lewiston and continued on their adventures, including fun with the Old Cranker’s Club, Good Sam Club and the Chrysanthemum Club, to name a few. Dawn also enjoyed gardening, handiwork, reading, yard sales and antique shopping. She loved birds and flowers the most! While in Grangeville, Dawn and John were members of the Christian Church and in Lewiston they attended the Methodist Church.

In 1994, Dawn, Janice, Laurie and Muriel went to Victoria, BC for a “girls’ trip” and visited Butchart Gardens. In 2017 Dawn, Janice and Laurie took another “girls’ trip” to the Oregon Coast. Many memories were made that are still talked about today!
In 2014 Dawn moved to Royal Plaza Assisted Living and made many new friends. She enjoyed The Red Hat Club, playing cards with the girls and all the entertainment provided to the residents.

Dawn is survived by her three children, J. Craig Lester of Pullman, Laurie Lester (Greg Banker) of Asotin, Wes Lester of Grangeville and her sister Janice Inghram (Roger) of Grangeville and a close cousin, Leland K. Jarvis (Linda) of Fullerton, California, grandchildren Jennifer Giovi, Brooke Lester and Julian Lester and 2 great grandchildren. She also is survived by John’s daughter Ruth Gortsema Hopkins of North Carolina and grandchildren Shannon Hopkins Thompson (Rick), Matthew Hopkins and 4 great grandchildren, sisters-in-law Anna Marie Gortsema and Rozella DeHaas both of Grangeville. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband John E. Gortsema, her ex-husband Ted Lester and her son -in-law Stephen Hopkins.

An extra special thank you to Elite Hospice; especially Maribeth, Sam and Chad for their care and support during this time for not only Dawn but her family as well, along with Tender Care Adult Home in Clarkston. Wes, Craig and Janice would like to thank our sister and niece, Laurie, for the loving daily care of our mom and sister. Laurie would like to thank Janice for her support and help as well.

Dawn has been cremated. A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, October 30 at the Grangeville Christian Church from 3 – 5 pm. Anyone wishing to come and share your stories and memories are welcome, or send a memory to share to

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Dawn’s name, to a charity that brings you joy! Arrangements are under the direction of Vassar-Rawls Funeral Home in Lewiston and Blackmer Funeral Home in Grangeville. Send condolences to the family to

Helpful Tip:  How to post condolences.

Condolences to the family of Dawn Louise Browning Lester Gortsema, 89

  • Vickie S Peterson(Wadley) says:

    I am very sorry for your families’ loss. I lived next door to your family on South Meadow street and enjoyed knowing Dawn and your family.

  • Olivia Garrison says:

    As an Elite volunteer I had the pleasure of visiting Dawn. I often brought roses from my garden which always brought a smile. She talked about her kids a lot and her love to travel. Just a delightful lady all around! I send heartfelt sympathy to her family; may their memories bring comfort❤️

  • Laurie Lester says:

    Thank you Vickie. I remember you as well! Laurie Lester

  • Laurie Lester says:

    Olivia, Thank you so much for visiting mom. She really enjoyed your visits and loved the beautiful roses you brought her. Your kindness and caring were very much noticed, thank you. I met you a couple times while you were visiting and enjoyed talking with you also. Laurie Lester

  • Rochelle Henderson family says:

    Our thoughts are with you in this time of loss. We have many fond memories of our friendship with Dawn.

  • >