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Chester Arthur Williams, Jr. 92 went to his new home in heaven on Thursday, October 4, 2018. He was born in Roanoke, VA on March 25, 1926. He was the son of the late Chester Williams and Zena Hash Williams. He was preceded in death by his sister, Catherine and brother, Charles.
Chester moved to Bluefield, WV with his family when he was ten years old. He lived on Union Street which was a blessing with lots of children and opportunities to play and grow up. He learned to play football on the vacant lots, he played “kick the can”, and other hide and seek games, he hiked the hills and mountains around Bluefield. He enjoyed sledding the best hill in town, and even picked blackberries for his sweet mother to make jelly.
He attended Beaver High School in Bluefield where he played on the football team. The family moved back to Roanoke where Chester graduated from Jefferson High School in 1944. In 1943, he had come to Roanoke with Beaver’s football team to play Jefferson but lost a close game. Then in 1944 , Chester played for Jefferson against Beaver and his former teammates, he was designated team captain by his coach for the game. Jefferson won another close game.
Chester volunteered for the navy just before his 18th birthday and left for boot camp the day after graduation. IN the Navy, he enjoyed many exciting places on the West Coast and in the South Pacific. For example, after boot camp his journey began in NYC, on a British transport ship, then through the Panama Canal, made a stop in Bora Bora and then on to New Guinea. He continued on to the Philippines where he was assigned to his ship, the LST451. LST451 played an important part in the battles against occupied Japan. He served two years during WWII. Chester made his entry into the invasion of Okinawa at Easter time, it was a critical time as it was one of Japan’s last big stands using kamikaze aircraft. The LST451 and other LST’s took American troops and their equipment right up on the beach, opened it’s doors and the invasion was on.
Chester returned to Roanoke after his honorable discharge and in the fall of 1946, he entered Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA. He graduated in 1950 with a degree in Business Administration. After W&L, he returned to Roanoke where had several jobs before General Electric moved him to Salem, VA next to Roanoke. He worked for Armour and Co and Esso Standard Oil Co. In 1956, he began a career that lasted 32 years with GE. He was transferred to Mebane, NC in 1975 and retired from there in 1988. After retiring, he moved back to Roanoke where he was a member of Highland Park UMC, he taught Sunday School, visited the shut ins, and was on several committees. After volunteering many years at Roanoke Area Ministries and other charities, he was named Volunteer of the Year by the Roanoke Civitan Club in 1992. It wasn’t long before Chester had two pets, Sam a don and Sally a cat. One sat on one leg and the other would set opposite and all would watch TV. Starting as a teenager, Chester donated blood to the American Red Cross until his mini-stroke in 2015.
After some fourteen years, Chester decided to move to Cornelius, NC where his son lived. He joined Mt Zion UMC and volunteered at Crisis Assistance Ministry in Charlotte and Lake Norman Regional Medical Center. He received a pin from the hospital for five hundred hours of service.
In 2003, he met Deborah Stroud Bailey in Statesville, NC. She transferred to his church at Mt Zion UMC where they were married on December 9, 2006. The service and reception were held at Mt Zion with Rev. Mike Bailey officiating.
Chester and Deborah loved to dance when he was able. They miss dancing together to their favorite song. “The Old Time Rock and Roll”. Their favorite Christmas song is “Silent Night”, and their favorite church hymns are “The Old Rugged Cross” and “How Great Thou Art”. Chester had a mini-stroke in June, 2015 and had a pacemaker implanted leaving him on a walker/wheelchair.
Deborah recently retired from Piedmont Healthcare after thirty years of service, in addition to being Chester’s caregiver, she does the family shopping and maintenance of the home. She has surrounded their lawn with beautiful plants and flowers. They both will tell you that the good Lord put them together.
Chester and Deborah enjoyed traveling throughout the USA and abroad. Their favorite place to visit was the Hawaiian Islands. They visited many exciting cities like London, Paris and Rome. Chester’s most exciting flight was on the Concord from Paris to NYC, “what a ride!”
Survivors include his wife Deborah; three daughters, Linda Rice, Deborah Dowdy and husband Mark, and Paula Coltrane all of Roanoke; son, William of Cornelius, NC. Chester has five grandchildren, Brian Rice, Whitney Miller and husband Steve, Grace Butler and husband Shane, Paige and Jacob Coltrane. He has four great grandchildren, Leah and Mason Rice, and Sidney and Chase Miller. Sister, Barbara Dudley and husband Dan; brother, Dr. Dickie Williams ans wife Betty. He is also blessed with a number of nieces, nephew, and cousins that he is extremely proud of and keeps up with their activities. Chester would like to say a special “thank you” to Muriel Clark for their four children and her support of them.
A brief Christian graveside burial service will be held at Evergreen Burial Park at 1307 Summit Ave SW, Roanoke VA, 24015 on Saturday, October 13, 2018 at 1:00 pm with Pastor Dr. Judy Eurey officiating.
Memorials may be sent to Roanoke Area Ministries at 824 Campbell Ave SW, Rm 5, Roanoke, VA 24016, Friendship UMC at 907 Friendship Rd, Statesville. NC 28625, or Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County at 2347 Simonton Rd, Statesville, NC 28625.
Carolina Cremation is honored to serve the Williams family. Online condolences may be made at www.carolinacremation.com .