Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Chester LeGrange was one of a kind, and he'll be missed by all who knew him

Chester LeGrange, left, with Skip Glasson at Terra Siesta in December.
JAMES A. JONES JR./Bradenton Herald
We met William A. "Chester" LeGrange, 99, while working on a neighborhood feature in December. He lived in Terra Siesta, one of the 55-plus communities along U.S. 301 North in Ellenton.

You knew right away that Chester was something special. He was beloved by his neighbors for his kindness and his concern for others, and his  sprightly sense of humor.

The day we met him, he was with Skip Glasson in a golf cart, and had just picked up a statue of a gnome that he was going to repaint for a neighbor.

Unfortunately, Chester, the oldest resident of Terra Siesta, fell and broke his hip some weeks later. But he lived to see the Bradenton Herald story, and was happy with it, we're told.

You know that the folks in Terra Siesta, and his family members are missing him terribly.

"In the 1950s and 1960s, we lived on 16th Street in Samoset. Each year he would put up a Christmas display that was a block long, He cut every piece out of lumber. The display was animated, and set to music," said his daughter, Norma Kennedy, who is now a civic leader in Parrish.

"People came from miles around to see the display. The ones who knew my family would stop by for coffee and the fruitcake that my mother baked," Kennedy said. "Christmas was always his thing, and when he was older, he would just decorate his golf cart."

In his younger days, Chester's home was on what is now Skyway Memorial Gardens, where was laid to rest.

Charles Lee Howell, property manager at Terra Siesta, says that Chester was the "happiest guy in the place."

Chester looked after his neighbors, and they looked after him, too.

"He was a heck of a carpenter, and there wasn't anything that he couldn't do," Howell said. "I always liked to drop in to see Chester. Some times I would see him napping in his golf cart."

When Dave Warner bought in Terra Siesta 15 years ago, Chester was his neighbor.

"He was pleasant and charming; just a very good neighbor," Warner said.

"Chester was a very active volunteer in the community, and over the years his activities changed as he got older, He used to lead all the golf cart parades. Chester was going great guns until the day he went down," Warner said.

Chester passed away Jan. 10, 2015.

He was born in Princeton, Ind., on Oct. 22, 1915. On December 23, 1936, He married Ruth Saunders LeGrange in 1936.

He was a carpenter at Miller's Trailers and Rasmussen Construction until retirement.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his honor to Emmanuel Baptist Church, 8305 US 301, Parrish, FL 34219.

In case you missed that Terra Siesta feature, you can read it here, and learn a little more about Chester and his neighbors:


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