Today I received word that Les Prescott died unexpectedly last night at the age of 69. I didn't know Les very well, yet he was an inspiration to me. Les suffered a stroke years ago, before I even knew him. Mobility was a problem for him. He relied heavily on his cane, and he got around very, very slowly. He sang in the NWUUC choir for a couple years, and he was always early, rarely missing a rehearsal. He was also active in social justice at NWUUC, helping with food donations for the Community Action Center. Les only missed church if the weather made it too dangerous for him to walk. He always sat in the same general area with Barbara, his girlfriend, and he always had a kind word, especially to any musicians who were participating in the service.
I only knew Les from church, and we exchanged pleasantries rather than deep conversation. Still, Les was a shining example to me. What impressed me about Les was the way he dealt with adversity. It was an obvious struggle for Les to get around, but get around he did. Every choir rehearsal, I would watch him make his crablike way to the front door, and I could see him plan his every move. In spite of the way his stroke slowed him down, I never once heard Les complain. He seemed to take it all in stride, and he just kept going, no matter what.
A lot of people, including me, will find excuses for not getting something done, but not Les. He was a man of action, not excuses. He was always busy, always active, and always kind. The simple fact that Les kept on keeping on made him a hero in my book.
I always got the sense that Les would have been a force to be reckoned with in his younger days. Les' memorial service is in a couple days, and I plan on being there to pay my respects and learn more about this marvelous man. Les, I'll try to follow your example and keep putting one foot in front of the other. You'll be missed.
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.