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Lester A. Houck, government worker

Lester A. Houck, a retired Treasury Department worker who was the oldest member of Wesley United Methodist Church, died Aug. 16 of liver failure at Vir-Les, his Westminster farm. He was 101.

The son of farmers, Lester Adelbert Houck was born on the Carroll County farm that has been in his family since 1863, and where he lived his entire life.

He was a 1927 graduate of Westminster High School and attended what was then Western Maryland College for a year, before returning to help operate the family farm.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s, he was a postal carrier assigned to the Westminster post office. He later went to work for the Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tax Division, where he was responsible for making sure that the Westminster Distillery paid the appropriate taxes on its alcohol.

While with the Treasury Department, he held similar positions in Brandenburg, Ky., Newark, N.J., and Philadelphia before returning to Maryland in the early 1960s. He retired in 1972.

In 1933, he eloped with the former Ellen Virginia Nagle, who died in 1994, family members said.

Mr. Houck was a lifelong member of Wesley United Methodist Church, where he had served as choir director, pastor's assistant and Sunday school superintendent.

He was also a member of the Rotary Club of Carroll County and volunteered with Meals On Wheels of Central Maryland.

He enjoyed listening to music and playing his trumpet and cornet. He also was an avid letter writer to the editor of The Carroll County Times and had written biographies of his father and his late wife.

An avid traveler, Mr. Houck had visited all 50 states at least once, family members said.

But his farm remained at the center of his life, which he switched from a dairy operation to Hereford beef cattle.

"He always said if he had a million dollars, he'd just keep on farming until it was all gone," said a son, Robert A. Houck of Severna Park.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 28 at his church, 3239 Carrollton Road, Hampstead.

In addition to his son, Mr. Houck is survived by his wife of 18 years, the former Ruth Barnes Rill; two other sons, Lester E. Houck of Albuquerque, N.M., and Raymond E. Houck of Fort Pierce, Fla.; a daughter, Janet Elaine Houck Martin of Chambersburg, Pa.; two stepdaughters, Carolyn R. Bell of Bel Air and Brenda R. Hejduk of Street; 13 grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren.

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