Chester L. Stevens of Caney, Kansas passed away at the young age of 97 at Jane Phillips Hospital in Bartlesville, Oklahoma on July 21, 2021.
Chester Leo Stevens, Sr. was born January 9, 1924, along with his twin brother Lester, to Stephen Edgar and Faleutus Viola (Sheets) Stevens at the family home 5 miles west of Bartlesville. He was the 6thchild of 14.
He attended Butler Creek School until the 8th grade when he went to work for a neighbor driving a tractor for a dollar a day. It was the first time he had ever driven a tractor. When he was 17 or 18, he moved to Argentine, KS to work in a steel mill reading blueprints and bringing bills of material to the assembly line to be riveted to make big guns.
He was drafted in 1943 and went to Ft Leonard Wood for Basic Training and then to the Caterpillar Company in Atlanta, GA to be a Diesel Mechanic. From there he went to Cummins Diesel learning more about diesel engines. After his training he boarded the SS Pasture to Liverpool England and landed there on D-day. Thirty days later a personnel carrier landed them on Omaha Beach and then they marched on to Cherbourg, a French Port that was completely destroyed and booby trapped by the retreating Germans. He was assigned to the 337th Harbor Craft in the 3rd Army. As a Tech Sergeant Marine Engineer (E7), Chester helped run a tugboat and was also a heavy crane operator unloading war material and rebuilding the destroyed port. He was in Cherbourg for 10 months.
From there he went to Regensburg, Germany and patrolled the Danube River by boat. His job was to intercept refugees from Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary who were fleeing the Russian occupation. He had 5 soldiers under him whose job was to inventory every ship and boat and the refugees living on them.
He confiscated a jeep at one point and drove through the bombed-out roads across Germany to see a relative stationed in Northern Germany and got detoured a couple times when he encountered Russian troops.
As part of the Army of Occupation, he was there to encourage people to work at factories in Regensburg building civilian boats.
During this time, he had known that his twin, Lester, was in Europe and when Chester walked up the plank of a Liberty Ship to leave for stateside, surprisingly, Lester was the first face he saw.
He was discharged in March 1946.
He was awarded the WWII Victory Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, American Theater Medal, European- African- Middle Eastern Campaign Theater Ribbon, and a Bronze Service Star. He also received a Letter of Commendation from Field Marshall Montgomery, the highest-ranking British Officer for his tugboat’s rescue of many British Soldiers who's ship was sinking. When he got home, he went to Coffeyville and worked in a smelter and then to the refinery.
He met Norma Owens when her father asked him to pick her up along with some feed in Bartlesville. By the time they got to her house he had asked her out on a date but ended up having to take the whole family. He met her in May, and they were married in November 1946. She passed away in Dec 2004 after 58 years together.
Chester had purchased a farm north of Tyro in 1963 and worked at the COOP Refinery for 35 years. Chester was a Deacon at the First Baptist Church in Caney, KS, a member of the Tyro School Board,
a Boy Scout Leader, and member of The Masonic Lodge.
He is survived by his four children, son Leo Stevens and wife Debbie, daughter Judy Thomas, daughter Marlene Smith and husband Mike, and Brad Stevens and wife Sherry, 12 grandchildren, and 33 great grandchildren, he is also survived by 3 brothers and many nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents and wife, Chester was preceded in death by 10 siblings, and son-in-law, Larry Thomas.
Funeral services celebrating Chester’s life will be held on Saturday, July 31, 2021, at 1:00 pm at First Southern Baptist Church, 2701 W 8th, Coffeyville, Kansas. Pastor Luke Oldweiler will be the officiant. He will be laid to rest next to his wife at the Sunnyside Cemetery in Caney, Kansas. The family will receive friends on Friday, July 30, 2021, from 6 to 8:00 pm at Ford-Wulf-Bruns Chapel, 2405 Woodland Ave., Coffeyville. To leave an online message of condolence for the family or share a memory visit www.fordwulfbrunschapel.com