Lester Bauer

Lester Bauer (Term of Office 1976 - 1989)

Lester Marvin Bauer was born on March 7, 1908 in Browns Grove, Kansas to Edward Philip and Emma (Miller) Bauer. Lester’s sister, Louella Marie, was born on December 20, 1909 and his brother Robert Alfred was born on January 22, 1920. When Lester was 17, his mother passed away.

After high school graduation, Lester moved to California for a few years. Among other things, he worked in various parts of California fighting forest fires. Lester moved back to Kansas and went to Bethel College in Newton where he played football. While there, he met his future wife, Hazel Kitch, who played basketball at Bethel. After college graduation, he married Hazel and became a high school teacher and football coach at Canton, Kansas. Hazel was a high school English and Latin teacher for many years.

During the later years of the 1930s depression, Lester was engaged in farming and started the Massey Harris farm implement dealership in Burdett, Kansas, which he operated for about 20 years.   During this time, his two sons were born, Lester Leon in 1935, and Grover in 1943, and he registered with Selective Service.

In 1954, Lester sold the farm implement dealership and went into the insurance business and Hazel returned to teaching. In 1958, Lester became president of the Burdett State Bank. He served on the Burdett School Board for many years and became the first Mayor of Burdett after the city incorporated in 1961. When Lester retired, he and Hazel moved to Colorado to Federal Heights.

After arriving in Colorado, Lester came out of retirement and worked for the Small Business Administration (SBA). He and Hazel traveled to many parts of the western United States in disaster-stricken areas where SBA loans were instrumental in meeting the need for rebuilding efforts.

While with the SBA, Lester ran for Mayor of Federal Heights in 1976 and won, and was seated as the Town's 11th Mayor.  Bauer won three more bids for Mayor in 1979, 1983 and 1987 and survived a recall in November, 1988 by one vote, 896-895. In July, 1989, Bauer and three fellow City Council members were recalled, ending Lester’s 13-year tenure as the longest-serving Mayor in Federal Heights.

In Bauer’s first year as Mayor, the Town of Federal Heights became a City, exceeding the required population of 2,000 residents with an estimated 7,300 people enumerated in an Adams County Comprehensive Plan.  Federal Heights Ordinance No. 265, adopted on June 8, 1977, made it official.

During his 13 years as Mayor, Bauer presided over more than 350 meetings while he and his Town Board and City Councils adopted 334 ordinances enacting legislation for a wide variety of issues. Ordinances adopted throughout Mayor Bauer’s tenure included those regarding: zoning; nuisances; water, sewer and storm water; creation of the Board of Adjustment; mobile home installers, setbacks and mobile home park managers; Uniform Building, Electrical, Plumbing, Traffic, Fire, Sign, Housing and Mechanical Codes; abatement of dangerous buildings; licensing of contractors, businesses, security guards and detectives; Firemen’s and Policemen’s Pension Funds; criminal code; elections; liquor code; Planning and Zoning Commission; municipal court and judge; franchises for cable television and Public Service Company; parking; fence regulations including prohibition of barbed wire fencing; employee deferred income compensation and pension plan; wards and polling places; condominium conversions; fireworks; retaining walls; snow removal; animal licensing; vehicle emission control; sidewalks and curbs; sprinkler systems; rights-of-way; energy efficiency standards; water conservation; lease purchase of a new fire truck; sales and use tax; flood prevention; temporary use permits; restrictions on solid fuel burning; and building permits. In 1979, Ordinance No. 345 approved a lease agreement for a new piece of equipment – a Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)-325 minicomputer with two 5.25” disk drives and one expansion slot.

After the recall, in about 1990, Lester and Hazel returned to Kansas to Overland Park to be closer to family. Lester enjoyed fishing and boating as well as hunting pheasants and ducks. The couple spent many memorable times with their two sons, and later with their two daughters-in-law and six grandchildren.

Hazel died in Overland Park in 1993 and Lester passed away in Shawnee Mission, Kansas on May 29, 2000. They are buried in Browns Grove Cemetery in Burdett.

Special thanks to Grover Bauer
for his contributions to this story.