Gary Chesnut, age 79, passed away peacefully at 3:33 a.m. Saturday, June 22, 2019, of respiratory failure. Family was lovingly with him.
He was born in Grand Island, Neb., Dec. 26, 1939, the second of five boys to the late Wayne and Bernadine (Shoff) Chesnut, of Moscow.
Gary attended school in Oregon and moved to Moscow as a high school sophomore. He fit right in with his athletic skills, especially in football, where he was a four-year letterman. He made friends easily and he enjoyed seeing them at all their class reunions. His wife, Lois, was in the same 1958 graduating class. They didn’t date until college at the University of Idaho and married after their sophomore year, June 24, 1960. He always told the story of how his fraternity, Sigma Nu, was across the street from her sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, and when they got engaged, Lois almost let him drown in the horse trough full of ice water (when his “brothers” tubbed him).
Gary worked hard. He played hard. And he loved deeply.
Gary was a true businessman and a very competitive fighter in all aspects of his life. He was a Golden Gloves boxer in high school. His competitiveness carried him a long way in business. He learned business from his parents and with his mother in a furniture store in Moscow.
In 1965, Gary and his young family moved to Lewiston, where he had a furniture/appliance store. Next, there was a long career with his insurance agency doing business and family tax planning. He earned many honors and sales awards, which included luxurious trips for his family through his sales ability; cruises and resorts and trips to Europe, and made lifelong friends along the way. He was too active to retire, so he and his youngest son, Greg, started a used car business. The family was often seen at area antique car shows with his ’56 T Bird. He was a longtime Vandal fan.
As a man, he was the head of his family and felt a deep responsibility to care for them. Dad has always been very protective of Mom and she was the love of his life. Family connection was important to him and he loved to get his large family together. He took great pride in his children, Brian (Cheri) of Priest River, Idaho, Bradley (Laura) of Spokane Valley, Wash., and Greg (Erica) of Clarkston, and his 25 (who’s counting?) grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He welcomed our children from blended families as Chesnuts, loving them like they were his own. He celebrated each new addition. He often bragged over how many there were in his large family, and their special abilities and unique personalities.
We loved our dad and tried to be a blessing to him. He always had time for us. Our favorite early memories are the Oregon coast, weekend trips camping and hunting, the family lake cabin and having all of the “boy toys” to ride on. He coached Little League baseball. When we were older, we cherished the one-on-one conversations with him. The foundation to Dad has always been about family. Each of us learned something valuable and important from Dad, which we have passed on to our kids and grandkids.
Gary was a man who loved Jesus and felt his presence with him always. The poem “Footsteps in the Sand” was meaningful to him. He did his best to live up to what he felt that relationship meant; learned from his Walk to Emmaus, Bible study and church participation. He felt fellowship with others was important and made strong friendships. He reached out in love to many who were struggling as he once did.
He was a fighter. In spite of his long hospital stay, he was determined to get better and worked at that tirelessly. Instead of complaining or feeling sorry for himself, he kept pushing to improve. But his body could no longer support life. We were fortunate to have had two-and-a-half years longer with Gary after a lengthy respiratory illness and hospital stay in 2017, and we treasure that time.
Gary worked hard. He played hard. And he loved deeply. Gary loved being with people. He was a friend. He enjoyed people and people enjoyed him. He will be missed.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Wayne Dean (Donna) and David (Kathy). He is survived by his brothers, Barry (Karen) and Walter “Bud” (Michelle) and numerous nieces and nephews. He is survived by Lois, his devoted wife of 59 years, his sons and children: Brian—Andrea, Chris, Nick, Kenny and Maria (Cheri with Jeremy, Kali, and Ty Oliver and five adopted); Brad—Kyle, Justen and Jarica and (Laura with Nathan and Josh Thomas); and Greg—Jamie, (Erica) Kiera and Arianna.
The Chesnut family is forever grateful for the love and support provided to him by the many people who helped him lead a full life through his illness by their loving friendship and care.
A memorial service and celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the First United Methodist Church, 1906 Broadview Drive in Lewiston, where he was an active member since 1970.