June 19, 1923-April 16, 2008
Frazee native Chester H. "Chet" Conway, 84, of Troy, N.C., passed away peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday, April 16, 2008, at his home, enveloped in the love of family and friends by his bedside.
Chester Henry Conway was born to Jesse and Grace (Bernard) Conway on June 19, 1923, in Frazee. He lived with his parents on their primitive (no well or electricity) farm near Vergas, until he joined the Navy in 1941. A decorated veteran of World War II and Korea, Chester was honorably discharged from active duty and served in the Naval Reserve, eventually retiring with over 25 years of decdicated service to the United States.
Chester served for 34 years with the Minnesota State Patrol in the communications department (dispatch) in Brainerd, Thief River Falls and Detroit Lakes, where he was the communications supervisor for the district.
He retired from the Minnesota State Patrol in 1985 and moved to Troy in North Carolina to be near his sister, Isabelle "Sis" Conway Richardson, and to experience life "where I don't need a snow shovel."
After a year of watching Major League Baseball on TV, desiring to contribute to society, Chester went to work as a dispatcher for the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, where sheriff's deputies and county paramedics alike acclaimed him as the "best dispatcher Montgomery County has ever had" due to his clear diction and attention to detail.
In early 1991, after several years as a dispatcher, Chester was invited to apply for the position of magistrate. At the tender age of 68, Chester graduated magistrate training and became a magistrate for the county, where he served for 14 years and retired from this, his third career at the end of 2004.
Diagnosed with prostate cancer in September 2000, Chester nonetheless continued to work as a magistrate, barely pausing for treatment later that same year. After his third retirement in 2004, he became interested in bluegrass music and dancing, and to fill his time, volunteered at a local floral shop as deliveryman and learned the florist trade.
In late January 2008, Chester was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, from which time until his passing, he was surrounded in loving care by his family and friends.
After his wife of 25 years passed in January 2003, Chet would at times privately quote these lines of the Robert Frost poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" to his closest family members: "The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."
Surviving Chester are his sons, Douglas J. Conway of Alexandria, Minn., Steve Conway of Star, N.C., Dan Schmidt of Thurmont, Md., and David Conway of Milwaukee, Wis.; daughters, Jennifer Sanders of Asheville, N.C., Debbie Warner of East Louisville, Ky., Pamela White of Milwaukee, Wis., Alicia Kohler of Maxwell AFB, Ala., and Patricia Wooden of Underwood, Minn.; brother, James Conway of Appleton, Wis.; 20 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Memorials may be sent to FirstHealth Hospice, 5 Aviemore Drive, P.O. Box 1956, Pinehurst, NC 28374.
At Chester's request, there will be no memorial service or funeral. A private ceremony will be held at a later date to be determined by family at Arlington National Cemetery, where Chester will be united with his beloved wife, Carol Marie Singer Conway, in the cemetery's columbarium.
Arrangements are being provided by Phillips Funeral Home of Star, N.C.