BATESVILLE, Miss. — A new marker in a north Mississippi cemetery honors the man who coined the FBI’s motto and was its spokesman during the era of John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd.
W.H. Drane Lester’s headstone bears just his name and the dates of his birth in 1899 and his death in 1941.
The new block in front of the headstone gives the years during which Lester was an FBI agent and adds, “Author of FBI Motto ‘Fidelity Bravery Integrity.'”
It was unveiled during a ceremony Saturday in Batesville’s Magnolia Cemetery, The Commercial Appeal (http://memne.ws/2dbmaxM ) reported.
Lester was partner in a Memphis law firm when he joined the FBI as an agent in 1932, Ed Worthington, retired Special Agent in Charge of Mississippi’s FBI office in Jackson, told past and present agents who gathered at Lester’s grave.
He was recognized for his ability to train agents, and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover made him supervisor of the training division before, in 1936, assigning Lester to give important public relations speeches around the country, Worthington said.
“He was the face of the FBI across the country during a very difficult time in our agency’s history,” Worthington said.
He said Lester suggested the motto in a 1935 memo to director J. Edgar Hoover. The same memo also recommended using the term “FBI agents” rather than “G-men” or “justice agents,” he said.
Lester resigned in 1940 to take care of his mother, and was killed months later in a car crash. He was 41.
After Lester resigned, Hoover sent him a box — now in the University of Mississippi library — containing what is believed to be the first prototype of the FBI seal.
Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com