Former Columbia mayor valued friendships

Les Proctor died Tuesday at the age of 68.
Thursday, March 17, 2011 | 10:28 p.m. CDT; updated 12:04 p.m. CDT, Friday, March 18, 2011

COLUMBIA — As a Columbia politician and successful banker, Les Proctor had strong networking skills and mingled with businessmen and professional athletes. But throughout his life, he stayed loyal to his friends and classmates from MU and Hickman High School.

Proctor once called his friend Jerry Mathis and said he was going to invite a few St. Louis Cardinals baseball players who he knew personally to play golf with them. The baseball players were not able to attend, but the memory stuck with Mathis.


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"What was it about me that made Les want to do things like that for me?" said Mathis, a Columbia resident. "He clearly had a different lifestyle than I had. He was a banker, very prominent in the community, and yet he would help his friends. If his friends were in need, he was there."

Mr. Proctor  died in his home in Columbia on Tuesday, March 15, 2011. He was 68.

He served the city from 1971 t0 1979 as a Planning and Zoning Commission member, a Fourth Ward councilman and as mayor.

Mr. Proctor had strong roots in Columbia. He was the sixth generation of his family to be born in Boone County, said his son, Les Proctor III.

Mr. Proctor graduated from Hickman High School and earned a business administration degree from MU. It was at Hickman that he met and befriended Mathis. They hung out together, playing sports and swimming in the rapids. After college, they went separate ways, but reunited in Texas in the mid-1980s.

When Mr. Proctor was living in Texas, he invited Mathis to move there, too. Mr. Proctor helped Mathis get a job after he spoke to the administrator of a local hospital.

"He was just like that," Mathis said. "He never forgot his friends."

Mr. Proctor also kept in touch with other former classmates. He was excited when he recently attended a reunion at Hickman High School, Les Proctor III said.

“You couldn’t find anybody who was a better friend,” Les Proctor III said. “He probably attended more funerals to honor his friends than anybody I know.”

Mathis said Mr. Proctor was a "suave and debonair" person who was nonetheless quiet and preferred small groups. Although he was smooth and persuasive, he was not the type of person who tried to con people. Rather, he was honest and trustworthy, Mathis said.

During his leadership of the city, Mr. Proctor focused on developing Columbia economically and handling city finances responsibly, Les Proctor III said. He also strived to create dialogue in the City Council among people who had different opinions in order to reach a consensus that would lead to improving Columbia.

“He was known as very conservative in his views, but also open-minded," Les Proctor III said. "(In) his guidance of the City Council, he always looked at everybody’s point of view."

Les Proctor III said his father enjoyed golfing, listening to country music, such as the Statler Brothers and Tom T. Hall, and keeping up with politics. Some of his favorite places in Columbia were Booche's Billiard Hall, the Columbia Country Club and Stephens Lake.

Mr. Proctor was born Sept. 29, 1942, in Columbia to Charles Johnson Proctor and Betty Rea Proctor. He was involved in Rotary International as a Rotarian and Paul Harris Fellow. He attended the chaplain service of Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital and also volunteered there.

Mr. Proctor is survived by his mother, Betty Rea Proctor of Denver; his sister, Tina Proctor of Denver; his daughter, Alex Proctor of Sherman Oaks, Calif.; his son, Les Proctor III of Cleveland Heights, Ohio; and his grandchildren Charles Thomas Proctor, Mary Elizabeth Proctor and Lucy Ann Proctor of Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

His father, Charles Johnson Proctor, died earlier.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. April 2 at Memorial Park Cemetery, 1217 Business Loop 70. The Rev. Alan Helland from the chaplain service at Truman Veterans Hospital will conduct the service.

Instead of flowers, the family asked memorial donations be made to: The Chaplain Service, c/o Voluntary Service, Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital, 800 Hospital Drive, Columbia, MO 65201.

The family said cards should be sent to Bettina Proctor, 2261 Hudson St., Denver, CO 80207.

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Steve Spellman March 18, 2011 | 8:54 a.m.

FYI: technical points:
the summary heading on the website News listing made it clear that this fellow had passed away.
however the print edition story, I was confused by the wording of "recalled" and his "loyalty recalled" - I thought he was in trouble with the law or something. same with the online story itself. I had to read a little in to get the hint that he had passed, then several paragraphs in to have that spelled out.
Just saying, as I was likely not the only reader to be thrown off by the headings, etc.
Thanks for the article, nonetheless.

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