BRUNSWICK -- Chester Arthur LeHay of Skowhegan passed away in Brunswick on April 20, 2013, at the age of 93. Chester died of complications from pneumonia and lung cancer and was comforted at the end by family and friends. He resided at Dionne Commons.
Chester was born on Oct. 10, 1919, in Embden. He was one of 10 children born to Fred and Jennie (Brown) LeHay. He grew up on a farm in Embden and attended schools in Embden and New Portland. Chester endured many hardships during his childhood. His father died when he was 8, leaving his mother with 10 children to raise on her own. When he was 10, he and a younger sister went to live with other farm families to help his mother make ends meet. He left school after eighth grade to work as a woodsman. When he was 17, he worked at the Great Northern paper mill until he was drafted into the Army on Aug. 18, 1942.
Chester was a truck driver with the military police in Europe. stationed in Paris, France. It was at a USO dance there that Chester met his beautiful Parisian wife-to-be, HŽlne LŽchauguette. Chester was honorably discharged on Dec. 2, 1945. He earned a rifle sharpshooter badge, European African Middle Eastern Ribbon with a Bronze Star, and a Good Conduct medal. He returned to Paris in August, 1946 and married HŽlne on Sept. 10, 1946. After proudly showing off his wife to his mother and his siblings in Maine, they settled in Coventry, R.I. Their only daughter, Christine, was born in 1947.
Even though Chester had little formal schooling, education was important to him. He encouraged his daughter to pursue college degrees and he entered a machinist's jet engineering course in order to work at Douglas Aircraft in California during the 1960s. He also worked for Bostitch/Textron while living in Rhode Island.
He filled his time off from work with landscaping their yard, working on his cars, woodworking projects, going to swap meets, participating in archery and horseshoe tournaments and playing cards. When visiting his brothers and sisters in Maine, he could always be found playing cribbage or 63.
Chester and HŽlne retired to Skowhegan in 1982. He was a participant of Notre Dame de Lourdes Catholic Church and helped with Christmas fairs, church bazaars, and served as an offertory minister. He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
His wife, HŽlne, his brothers Robert, Joe, George, and Alex, his sisters Melvina, Lucille, Annie, and Ethel, predeceased Chester.
His daughter Christine of Freeport, grandsons Benjamin and Matthew, Lesa Andreasen, Nancy Crawley, his sister Freda, and many nieces and nephews survive him.
A viewing will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, at Smart and Edwards Funeral Home, 183 Madison Ave., Skowhegan. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 11, at St. Jude's Church, 134 Main St., Freeport. Interment will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 11, at Sunset Cemetery in North Anson.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Dionne Commons Activity Fund, 24 Maurice Drive, Brunswick, ME 04011, or CHANS Hospice, 60 Baribeau Drive, Brunswick, ME 04011.