Lester Dent (1904 - 1959)
Early Years & Education
Lester Dent was born in La Plata, Missouri, on October 12, 1904. He was the only child of Bernard and Alice Norfolk Dent. Lester’s father was a rancher and his mother was a former schoolteacher.
When Lester was two years old, Bernard Dent sold the family’s farm in Oklahoma, gathered his wife and son into a covered wagon, and moved to Wyoming. The trip took a bone-jarring six weeks. There Bernard operated a sheep and cattle ranch. Lester later observed, “My father was a chronic pioneer.”
The Dent’s ranch was isolated. The nearest town, Pumpkin Buttes, was thirty-two miles distant. The family’s closest neighbor lived ten miles away. Without siblings or neighbor children to play with, Lester grew up with animals as his only companions. He entertained himself by exploring the ranch, inventing games, doing chores, and riding his pony. It was a time, Dent recalled, where “my only playmate was my imagination.”
When he was eight years old, the Dents pulled up stakes and moved to another ranch in Wyoming. Lester’s mother, a former teacher, homeschooled him until he was nine years old. He then attended public school in Gillette, Wyoming.
In 1918 the Dents sold their ranch and returned to La Plata, Missouri, where they operated a dairy farm. Lester graduated in 1923 from La Plata High School and then studied telegraphy at Chillicothe Business College. He worked as a telegraph operator for various newspapers and wire services across the Midwest.