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A memorial service for Kenneth Ray Chester, 85, of Coos Bay, will be held at 1pm, Saturday, June 16 at Coos Bay Chapel, 685 Anderson Avenue in Coos Bay. Cremation has been held at Ocean View Memory Gardens in Coos Bay. Private inurnment will be held at a later date at Plumlee Cemetery in Compton, Arkansas.
Kenneth was born May 7, 1933 in Hinsdale, Illinois to Alma and Lee Chester, joining two brothers, Calvin and Harold. He passed away peacefully June 9, 2018 surrounded by family in Coos Bay, after failed heart surgeries.
The family moved to a farm in Arkansas when Kenneth was 6 years old. He and his two brothers built a dairy barn with lumber from their own trees that a neighbor helped them process. He was 12 years old at the time; the barn is still in good shape and used by the owner of the farm.
Ken married Imogene Brisco at her home July 8, 1953. He worked for Brownie Coldiron Loop Construction building roads and in the woods on Eden ridge in the ‘50s. He had a real passion for collecting petrified wood, remembering those secret spots where the big pieces were. He would not rest until he had retrieved some of those prized pieces (by then he was in his eighties!) The couple moved to Libby, Montana in 1954, where he worked for J. Neils Lumber company until 1956, then moved to Powers, Oregon where he worked in logging and construction of roads. In 1961, they moved to Coos Bay where he worked for the Coos Bay/ North Bend water board for 31 years, until retiring in June of 1994 and where they resided the rest of his lifetime.
After retirement, Ken and his wife really enjoyed traveling. They visited many states and historical places; the Oregon Trail being one of them. They traveled all over Oregon and also had many trips to Arkansas. They liked packing lunches and going for back road drives in his red jeep, his favorite mode of transportation. Ken loved the hunting trips to eastern Oregon with family and friends. He passed on his passion for learning, a new adventure, or exploring a new area, he didn’t need to travel Oregon with a map; he knew Oregon’s highways very well.
Ken had a great love for the outdoors; no matter what the weather was doing; the wetter, the snowier, the hotter, the better! He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and camping. He once killed a badger with a tire iron and a rattle snake with his bare hands. He passed down his passion and knowledge of the outdoors and hunting to his son, then it moved on like a pyramid scheme, always involving young kids. Ken loved people and doing anything he could to help his family, friends and neighbors. He enjoyed helping with youth hunting trips and was a Cub Scout leader. A “Ken Chester- fire” was admired by all, teaching fellow campers to build a fire with a match and some pitch was something he always did. The Chesters eventually bought property in Eastern Oregon and built a cabin in Chester Acres, which Ken loved to work on.
He snowmobiled for many years. Many wonderful memories and trips around Oregon belonged to the Sno-coaster snowmobile club; where he volunteered every year to take T.H.E. House special needs folks. He was also a life-member of the Eagles #538.
A simple trip to get groceries with Ken was always topped off by running from the store to the car.
Ken also did some neat craft projects; horn lamps, walking sticks, shells; always keeping himself busy. He only knew one way to work – hard.
His last, most enjoyable trip was a long weekend visit to Hot Springs, Arkansas. His niece, Betty Burge took him, his wife, and nephew Marvin. Ken really enjoyed the old unique town and thought the hot springs were awesome.
Ken is survived by his wife of 65 years, Imogene of Coos Bay; son, Andy and Jeannie of Myrtle Point; special friend “son” , Rod Gulseth of Coos Bay; four grandsons, Tucker, Travis, Chad and Troy; three great-granddaughters, Grace, Hayley, Alayna; one great-grandson, Michael; as well as several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and his two brothers. The three brothers passed away within 5 months of each other. Harold passed away February 2, at age 86, Calvin passed May 7, at age 88 and Kenneth June 9, at age 85.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the South Coast Hospice, 1620 Thompson Road, Coos Bay, OR 97420.
Arrangements are under the care of Coos Bay Chapel, 541-267-3131. Friends and family are encouraged to sign the online guestbook at www.coosbayareafunerals.com