Lester Crain Awarded Top Honor 

The Distinguished Eagle Scout Award was established in 1969 to acknowledge Eagle Scouts who have received extraordinary national-level recognition, fame, or eminence within their field, and have a strong record of voluntary service to their community. Only Eagle Scouts who earned the Eagle Scout rank a minimum of 25 years previously are eligible for nomination. The award is given by the National Eagle Scout Association upon the recommendation of a committee of Distinguished Eagle Scouts.

J. Lester Crain, Jr. was recently surprised with the presentation of the Distinguished Eagle Award at a gathering of family and friends. A native Memphian, he has contributed significantly to the life of this community through his distinguished and influential career as an entrepreneur and private investor.

As a member of Troop 34, he was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout.  He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Rhodes College, earned a full scholastic scholarship to Harvard Law School and completed his Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law where he was President of Omnicron Delta Kappa, National Honor Society, and credits Harvard Law for teaching him how to think.  In recognition of his contributions to the business community and civic community he was awarded the Outstanding Alumnus award from Rhodes College.Upon graduating from Harvard Law School he joined the United States Navy where he served with distinction as a Naval Aviator.  During the Korean conflict he flew the F2H3N Banshee Jet Fighter in the Western Pacific Theater and made 106 aircraft landings.

After completing his service in the United States Navy, Mr. Crain returned to his hometown of Memphis and began the practice of law where he was a partner in a local law firm and active in local, state and national bar associations. He left the private practice of law to become the chief legal officer for what was known as Malone & Hyde, Inc. which became the third largest wholesale food distributor in the United States.  He served as the company’s general counsel and corporate secretary.  His executive leadership was recognized when he was named chairman of the National Wholesale Grocers Association.  Other companies created under Mr. Crain’s guidance included Super D drugstores, Quality Stamps, a sporting goods operation, and a series of auto parts stores originally called Auto Shack but later changed their name to AutoZone which is the nation’s leading retailer and a leading distributor of automotive replacement parts and accessories with more than 4,200 stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Mr. Crain has been quoted as saying he believed that if you were willing to study hard, learn as much as possible, then put that knowledge to use in an ethical manner, that a person could make a difference in their community.  He is credited with outlining the direction for many organizations and helped them establish funding, including the Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Greater Memphis Arts Council, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis Inter Faith Association, St. John’s Episcopal Church and the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association.  He has contributed of his many talents, time and treasures to ensure opportunities are available for young people, young business people and the unfortunate. 

It is with much admiration that the Chickasaw Council, Boy Scouts of America, salutes Mr. J. Lester Crain, Jr., Eagle Scout from Troop 34, and now a Distinguished Eagle Scout.  This honor is only given to a few Eagle Scouts from across the United States each year and we are proud to say one of our own has received it. Congratulations!

Past recipients of the Distinguished Eagle Scout award from the Chickasaw Council are: Robert E. Cannon, Eugene K. Cashman, Jr., Dr. James H. Daughdrill, Jr., Jackson W. Moore, S. Shepherd Tate, Richard A. Trippeer, Jr., David G. Williams, The Right Reverend James Malone Coleman, Major General James Harvey Lipscomb, III, and A. Jan Thomas, Jr.