Cover photo for Lester Faigley's Obituary
1947 Lester 2020

Lester Faigley

April 6, 1947 — August 11, 2020

North Austin Location

“The will of man is unconquerable. Even God cannot conquer it.”

”No se puede vivir sin amar”

(You can not live without loving) ― Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano

Lester L. Faigley, a giant in the field of rhetoric, passed away on August 11, 2020. Lester Faigley was born on April 6, 1947, in Charleston, West Virginia. He grew up as an only child and briefly explored the field of architecture before finding his lifelong calling in the field of rhetoric. Lester earned a B.A. in English from North Carolina State University, an M.A. in English and Linguistics from Miami University, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington.

In the spring of 1967, he met his dear wife Linda at the NC State Student Union. After a...persistent...courtship, they married on June 7, 1969, and enjoyed 51 years of making wonderful memories together all across the globe.

Lester taught rhetoric and composition at The University of Texas at Austin for 38 years and published over 30 publications. As Robert Adler Law and Thomas H. Law Centennial Professor Emeritus at The University of Texas at Austin, Lester was a dynamic, prolific scholar with wide-ranging interests. He published widely in the fields of linguistics, rhetoric, and composition studies. His book Fragments of Rationality (U of Pittsburgh Press, 1992), an assessment of the study and teaching of writing against the larger theoretical, political, and technological upheavals of the time, was particularly influential; for it Lester received the Modern Language Association Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize and the Conference on College Composition & Communication (CCCC) Outstanding Book Award.

Lester was also well known for several widely adopted textbooks, including Writing (Longman, 2010); and the argument book Good Reasons (Pearson, 2008), written with his dear friend and colleague Jack Selzer. Indeed, Lester loved teaching students in courses such as rhetoric and composition, travel literature, and writing and photography, and as a mentor of graduate students he was notably generous and humane. He also served his colleagues and his profession in leadership positions, most notably as founding chair of the Department of Rhetoric and Writing at Texas and as chair of the CCCC in 1996.

Lester’s intellectual curiosity was boundless, and throughout his life he was an avid traveler and adventurer with his wife Linda. Faigley kayaked down rivers in the most remote parts of Alaska and Costa Rica, trekked across mountains in Nepal, and climbed numerous peaks. He instilled that same sense of adventure in his sons, taking them mountain biking in Moab, kayaking in Alaska, spending a year in Singapore, exploring the biodiversity of the Galapagos, and climbing Mt. Rainier. He was passionate about birding, kayaking, hiking, reading, his family, and the Texas Longhorns.

Lester is survived by Linda, his two sons Garth and Ian and their wives Stephanie and Jessica, and his grandsons Edward and Evan. All share fond memories of Lester’s expansive knowledge on a wide range of topics and his love of sharing stories and teaching moments. Lester met every moment in his life with deep-seated sincerity and a passion to learn from others, leaving a profound impact on the many lives he touched throughout his life and career.

At this time, a brief virtual ceremony is planned for this Sunday at 5 pm Central, 6 pm Eastern. Please contact Ian Faigley at for access to the virtual ceremony. When there is a safer time, we will get together in person.

In lieu of flowers or donations, please call the special people in your life and tell them you love them.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Lester Faigley, please visit our flower store.


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