(August 19, 1926 - December 25, 1999)
Lester’s mother was Pearl Wilken (b. 1909), the (step) granddaughter of Karl Strickert, the youngest of 13 children of William Wilken and
Emilia Kriese (Strickert), who made their home in Colville, Washington. At age 16 Pearl became pregnant. She married Charles Flugel on
August 12, 1926. A week and a half later, while staying in a tent in the backyard of a relative in Hawthorne, California, Pearl gave birth to
a son and gave him up for adoption to Ida and Wayne Bolender, of Hawthorne.
Pearl kept this a secret until shortly before her death in 1988 when she informed her four adult sons that they had an older brother. When
going through Pearl’s papers and keepsakes, one of Peal’s sisters discovered a 1927 letter from Ida Bolender to Pearl. “Little Norma
Jean is with me. She is the baby girl I had when Lester came. They have great times together. Lots of people think them twins. I dress
them alike at times and they do look cunning. . . They are full of mischief and keep me busy.”
On the basis of this letter, the family was able to track down Lester Bolender who was able to travel to Colville, Washington for a reunion
with family members. The Spokane Spokesman Review for October 19, 1990 describes that get together, noting that one of the brothers
refused to recognize Lester as a brother. The next oldest brother to Lester, Milton Flugel died in 1999. His obituary recognizes Lester
as brother (See http://www.strickertfamily.com/Milton_C.html ). Lester died just a short while later in 1999 in Arizona
Two months before Lester came to the Bolender home Norma Jeane Baker was born (June 1, 1926) to Gladys Baker (her father had
been named Mortenson though they divorced a short time later). Lester and Norma Jeane therefore were only a little over two months
difference in age and Ida Bolender notes that people thought they were twins as early photos attest. The Bolenders adopted Lester,
but they never officially adopted Norma Jean. So she remained Norma Jeane Baker.
In 1933, Gladys Baker moved into her own home and took Norma Jeane away from the Bolenders in what was described as a rather
traumatic experience. Gladys then had a break down and her friend Grace McKee became Norma Jeane’s guardian. Lester later
reported that he remained friends with Norma Jeane through young adulthood when she took the name Marilyn Monroe.
Norma Jeane and Lester had a younger foster sister, Nancy Bolender, who is still living and speaks about their childhood. However, it
was only in Pearl’s 1988 revelations that a connection was learned with the Wilken/ Flugel family.
Lester Bolender son of Pearl Wilken Flugel, daughter of William Wilken & Emelia Kriese, step-daughter of Karl Strickert
Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - December 31, 1999 Deceased Name: Lester Bolender Lester Bolender, 73, of Apache Junction, a retired plumbing caster, died Dec. 25, 1999. He was born in Hawthorne, Calif., and was a World War II Navy veteran. Survivors include his wife, Jean daughter, Cheryl Millham son, David stepsons, John Hunt and Gerry Partch 15 grandchildren 32 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. No services are planned. Apache Junction Mortuary.