The story of a wonderful life
Chester was born on April 11, 1947 in Richmond, Virginia to Marie and Matthew James. He was the eldesto of three siblings, a protective brother of his two younger sisters; Mary Ann and Janine. He graduated from Brown University in 1969 with a degree in History and continued on at Brown to receive his Ph.D. in Ancient History shortly thereafter. He married Chloe Esposito, his high school sweetheart, in 1970. After moving back home to Richmond, Virginia he began working for the University of Richmond as a professor and stayed until his retirement in 2002.
Over four years, the couple welcomed two children (Diane and Lane) into their home, and Chester set about teaching them the power of kindness, laughter, and learning from your mistakes. His children remember him as a gentle, patient, and silly father who encouraged them to pursue their goals and follow their dreams.
Aside from his brilliance in history and his knowledge of the ancient world, Chester was accomplished at woodworking and gardening and was well known around the neighborhood for building chairs, tables, bookcases, etc. and bringing around his delicious vegetables for anyone in need. He was a generous individual who loved learning and who was passionate about education and a good steak. He was an active and dedicated member of the Christian Church and often volunteered at the local shelter. His favorite hobby of them all was spending time with his wife Chloe, his children Diane and Lane, and his 4 grandchildren, Celine, Brooke, Robby, and Chase.
Images of the memorable moments
Chester loved to paint in his final years. 2019
Chester and Chloe enjoy the wandering the winding alleys of Spain.
Chester enjoys the beach with wife Chloe and friends. 1967
Chester loved to read. He was always, always reading. 2013
Chester and Chloe. 2019
Chester, siblings, and neighborhood friends. 1953
Colorado camping trip with Chloe and family. 2010
Candids of Chester. 2019
Chester and Chloe enjoy fall in Maine. 2017
Chester enjoys time with family.
Christmas time for baby Chester, 1948
Chester and Chloe, 2010
Chester with his grandchildren. 2007
Chester and Chloe enjoy a trip to New York. 2017
Chester, sister Mary Ann and the neighborhood kids. 1952
The memorable moments
I remember it all Chester, the love, the tears, the smiles, the cries, the whispers, the story of us. The most kind and generous man - I was so lucky to love you and so lucky to share our lives together with our beautiful family. It was more than I could have ever dreamed of...the boy who stood up for me when everyone else chuckled at my thick Italian accent in English class all those many years ago.
Dammi la tua mano e carriamo uniti per tutta la vita.
Give me your hand and we run together for a lifetime.
It’s wrong that you’re gone. I feel like a mess that I’m unable to clean up. You and your brother are the light of my life, and I don’t know what I will do without you. When we lost your mother, it was like someone had ripped my heart from my chest. You stepped up to take care of your brother and me with such maturity and selflessness. That’s who you were, a man of bravery who laid his life down to love his friends and family. I don’t know what I did to deserve you, and as I grieve the loss of you, I pray gratitude for the time we did have together. I am more proud of you than you know, son. Say hello to your mother for me. I love you and I miss you.
Chester will be dearly missed. He made an impact on everyone he met, from his family, siblings, grandchildren, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and students, you always left time spent with Chester feeling happier.
It didn't matter whether we 2 years old or 62, Chester was ALWAYS there as our protector. From neighborhood bullies to ex-boyfriends, scraped knees, illness, divorce, new jobs, lay-offs, winning the swim meet, a shoulder to cry on or a friend to laugh with - Chester was there. There aren't enough words in the dictionary to tell people what a kind soul he was. If you knew him, you were one of the lucky ones. We love you Chester and wanted to capture everything amazing about you in this StorySpot. A place for stories, a place for memories, a place for everything in-between.
My favorite memory of Grandpa Chester was when I was in the talent show. I had practiced my dance routine to Our Song by Taylor Swift probably over 500 times. When they called my name to perform I was WAY too scared to go up in front of everyone and perform.
My grandpa had driven up to see it and I felt so sad, embarrassed, and crushed I couldn't do it. Instead of making me feel bad, Grandpa Chester had gone home and rearranged the whole backyard and set up a stage with lights for me to perform on in front of the family. He was the MC and the opening act. It was the most thoughtful and kind thing anyone has ever done to me until this day. I miss you today and always Grandpa!
You were my first friend and best friend. I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to sit around playing checkers, talking about girls, and laughing about stupid stuff with you for 70 years. I won't forget you, buddy, you left a legacy behind.
Having to write this memorial is heartbreaking for me. I feel all sorts of emotions, and I can’t quite hang on to just one of them. They all seem to be floating above me like a dark cloud of grief. I never imagined you would go before I did.
You were the best big brother. I looked up to you and admired you. You saw me when I felt alone and challenged me to put myself out there. Remember when we were at that baseball game, and you talked me into asking that pretty girl for a date? The courage you gave me to do that made that pretty girl my wife. You were constantly providing people the courage to do the hard things in life. You lived your life to better others, and you always put everyone else above yourself. I hope that I can be half the man you were, Chester. I will miss you, but I know you’ll be waiting on the other side for me with a smile.
I don’t know how my life will go on without you. I remember when our love was young, I used to pray that I would die before you because I couldn’t bear the loss of you. It feels too soon, but I know that you lived your life with purpose. You never wasted a second, but you were always making sure people were loved and taken care of. I felt in the deepest parts of my soul that I was always seen and loved by you. Please know that I am going to do everything I can to carry on the beautiful work you started. I will take care of your daddy with the same devotion you had. Hold a space up there for me, honey.
You were the best neighbor I ever had. Your big smile always filled me with joy. I can see you now in my imagination meeting me at the end of the driveway- smiling and extending some delicious sweet bread Maxine baked for us. Your generosity was extreme; you were always trimming our trees, watering the flowers, and pulling our trash can into the garage after they came by. You took care of us, man. You never left us wondering if we had someone to call in a time of need. Thank you for being the example of a neighbor that I know we all should be. You will be deeply missed.
You were a man of integrity and wisdom, and I cherish the time that my family had with you. You were the father my boy didn’t have. I knew things would be hard on us when Tim died. I never imagined myself as a single mother, but you stepped into that role with humility and strength. You and Maxine entered into our lives and embraced us. Our Monday night dinners provided a needed structure to our lives. I learned about community, vulnerability, and the love of God from you. I’m so thankful for you and the wonderful life you lived. We will all miss you!
Thanks for being the best friend I ever had. I hold the best memories of growing up on Fry Street with you. We were knuckleheads, man. I remember climbing through those ditches and chasing each other home every night before dinnertime. They’re all closed up now, but we made our way through that whole neighborhood through those. I do have a bone to pick with you, man. You’re leaving me behind to dig up that old nasty time capsule we buried. How do you think I’m going to manage getting that out by myself? I love you, brother. We lost you too soon.
You are a soul that no one could forget, and your legacy lives on. When we met at summer camp, I was in awe of you with the biggest crush. Granted, you were 12 years older than I was, but that didn’t seem to matter to my pre-teen heart. You made people feel seen and loved just by the look in your eyes. With Maxine as a mentor to me, you quickly became like an older brother. You two were an example of prioritizing trust and grace in your marriage. I’m so glad you officiated Phil and I’s wedding. We wouldn’t have had it any other way. Your leadership has helped shape us, and I will be forever grateful for the role you played in our lives. We’ll be praying for Maxine and taking care of her the same way you did us.
Some fragments of life
The pieces of the puzzle
Chester is born
Date: Apr 11, 1947
Date: Aug 17, 1949 - Dec 8, 1950
Date: Aug 1, 1951 - May 30, 1958
Date: Aug 1, 1958 - May 31, 1961
Date: Sep 1, 1961 - Jun 1, 1965
Date: Apr 18, 1962
Date: Aug 1, 1965 - May 22, 1969
Date: Jun 17, 1970
Date: Sep 1, 1970 - Jun 1, 1974
Date: May 10, 1972
Date: Jul 8, 1974
Date: Aug 1, 1974
Date: Dec 2, 1974
Date: Jul 2, 2002
Every life composes a song or two