Chester, Michael

Michael Eugene Chester

June 30, 1946 - March 3, 2018

Michael Eugene Chester, a man who engaged with the world as though he would be its master, died at his Frisco home, surrounded by those who loved him, Saturday, March 03, 2018, at 9:11 a.m. He was tall, handsome, with a booming voice and a heart bigger than the state where he finally rested his head. As a career entrepreneur, he was larger than life and embraced every opportunity for the 71 years he lived.

Michael was strong in body, in spirit, and in determination, destined for greatness.  His degree from Arizona State University and his time in the National Guard prepared him for the many twists and turns of his career. Being self-made and self-reliant, Michael charged headfirst into each new challenge with the confidence to conquer it along with an endless curiosity for what lay behind the next corner.

Few men could begin their professional life as an intern at the Arrow shirt company quickly accelerating through its ranks and beyond to roles within great fashion houses including Van Heusen, Levi Strauss, and Alexander Julian only to establish his own shirt manufacturing companies and private labels.  Michael did. 

By the mid-80’s, he switched industries entirely and took one of the most senior positions in the esteemed Trammel Crow real estate company in Dallas, Texas.  Yet when the real estate market crashed in the late 80’s, Michael immediately embraced his entrepreneurial spirit and began a string of small businesses, retail concepts, and manufacturing companies. Many of those businesses were hailed in the media and copied by the biggest brands in retail.  In his latest venture, Michael had the foresight to seek out and revitalize the iconic American brand – Curtis Mathes.  He developed and launched extensions of the legendary electronics company, even at a time when the consumer electronics sector was undergoing the greatest disruption in history.  People said it couldn’t be done. Michael did it anyway.

As successful as Michael was at business, he would say there were four distinct accomplishments in his life of which he was most proud – his sons: Michael E. Chester II, Jason Chester, Christopher Chester, and Ryan Chester. 

Michael was imbued with a belief that family came first. He loved his sons, his daughters-in-law, his grandchildren, and great-grandchildren with all his heart.  He tried every day to be the pillar of strength for them, as his father had been to him. His teaching style was by example. His word was his bond. And though he was human and could not always do everything he wanted to do for his children, he would nearly kill himself trying to fulfill every commitment he undertook – especially for his boys.

Michael was raised in a humble family and he knew the value of a dollar earned, yet he was as generous with his money as he was with his spirit.  And he never solved problems by avoiding them.  He owned his mistakes.  He taught his boys to face into the wind, be sure of themselves, and never judge a man by anything other than his character.  Most of all, he wasn’t afraid to hug or kiss his sons and tell them openly how much he loved them. 

In addition to work and family, Michael relished the good things in life.  A venerable conversationalist around town, he could be found in many establishments enjoying fine wine, great Scotch, a funny joke…and as always, the people who frequented them and the ones who staffed them. Fortunately, his charm, success, and flashing blue eyes ensured he was never without the things he loved at his side.  And he was grateful for all.

Michael always exuded a quiet dignity, respecting himself the way he did others.  As he faced his final days, body ravaged with cancer, physically changed by the 35 chemotherapy treatments, he never lost his sense of humor, joking at his own expense to the very end. But he never expressed one moment of self-pity. It was as though he believed he would conquer this last challenge as he had so many others.

His last words to his loved ones, with hands held, was a shared prayer and “I love you”.  He then quietly left this world, cheating cancer of a vessel to corrupt, with as much courage and grace as he had used to walk through it. 

Michael Chester is survived by his partner in love and life, Pennie Walters and her sons, Taylor and Jordon; his children, Michael and Glynis Chester of Frisco, TX, Jason Chester of Sacramento, CA, Christopher and Catherine Chester of Frisco, TX, and Ryan Chester of Erie, PA; his grandchildren, Amanda, Aletha, Morgan, Jordan, Aidan, Dermot, Megan; and great-grandchildren, Marilyn and Connor. 

Also surviving are Michael’s aunts, Marian Seaman of Scottsdale, AZ, Pat Reese of Camarillo, CA; nieces, Leslie Reid of Los Angeles, CA, Denise Reid and her son, Cameron Pierce, of Phoenix, AZ; cousins Dennis Seaman of San Francisco, CA, Cheryl Reese of Camarillo, CA, Tom Reese of Arlington, TX, Cindy Carlson of Palmdale, CA, and Marla Reese of Camarillo, CA.

Michael was preceded in death by his parents, Perry and Dorothy Chester of Phoenix, AZ; his sisters, Terrie Sanford of Phoenix, AZ and Roxie Foster of Wolcott, IL; and grandson, Alexander Chester of Frisco, TX.

Friends and supporters are welcome to celebrate his life, Irish style, toasting Michael, sharing stories with each other, and greeting his family on March 17, 2018 between 11 A.M. - 4 P.M. Feel free to come and go at one of his favorite places, the Frisco Rail Yard - 9040 First Street, Frisco, Texas 75034. A section will be dedicated to Michael.

The family requests any donations should be made to the Michael E. Chester Memorial at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital here:

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Mike, I am late to hear of your passing to be with the Lord. I really good lot of good memories in our brief working at CM. You're bigger than life and several times I thought about when going got tough, and how you persevered. I miss you and wish your family God's best. RIP my friend. One day we shall see each other in His presence. Paul Chintapalli, November 20, 2018 It has been 54 years since we walked the halls of North High, but sometime it seems like only yesterday. Even though we are scattered near and far, we are always Mustangs and have that common bond. Rest in Peace Mike. I'll toast you with Jamesons on the 17th. "Until we meet again, may God Hold you in the pals of his hand. Gayle Crittenden, Class of 1964 Gayle Crittenden, March 12, 2018 Thanks for all the fun and funny memories Uncle Mike! Troy Cochran, March 11, 2018