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John Buist Chester, Jr MD

July 30, 1930 - August 14, 2020

John Buist Chester, Jr MDJohn Buist Chester Jr., M.D. age 90, died on August 14, 2020. He was born July 30, 1930 at Schofield Barracks Station Hospital, Honolulu, Hawaii to Dr. John B. Chester, and Mary Catherine Payne Chester. He attended Castle Heights Military Academy High School, Lebanon, Tennessee, graduating in 1947. After high school and during college he worked summers as a roustabout for Magnolia Petroleum (later Mobile) in the oil fields of Oklahoma. He went on to attend Vanderbilt University, transferring to Austin College where he met his wife of 67 years, Hilda Palmer Thomas. He graduated from Austin College in 1952 and attended the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, in Dallas Texas, graduating with a medical degree in 1957. He interned at Tripler General Army Hospital, and then completed his Residency in Orthopedic Surgery at Tripler and Schreiner’s Hospital for Children, in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1962. From 1957 to 1969, he was commissioned to the U.S. Army, Regular, as a Medical Doctor and received an Honorable Discharge in 1969 with a Rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was Board Certified in Orthopedic Surgery by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery, and was a Fellow American College of Surgeons. John specialized in trauma, hand surgery and joint reconstruction. He had teaching associations at University of Virginia Medical School, Washington University Medical School, University of Hawaii School of Medicine, and University of Oregon Health Sciences Center.
His medical career took him and his family to many locations, as Chief of Orthopedics at Kenner Army Hospital in Fort Lee, Virginia, U.S. Army Hospital in Fort Leonard Wood Missouri, US Army Medical Center, Okinawa, Japan, and Assistant Chief of Surgery, Fitzsimons General Hospital in Denver Colorado. While in Okinawa, John operated on and saved many enlisted men with traumatic injury from the Vietnam War. He took a personal interest in helping amputees rehabilitate by teaching them how to slalom water ski.
Inspired by the beauty of Oregon, John moved his family to Salem after discharge from the military, opening a private medical practice in orthopedic surgery and affiliating with Salem Hospital. After 25 years in private practice, he became a Medical Director at Salem Hospital Pain Rehabilitation Services and Industrial Medicine establishing an injured workers program. In 1991 he published a study in the Journal Spine, “Whiplash, Postural Control and the Inner Ear” culminating a career long interest in “Whiplash Syndrome.” In retirement he continued as a consultant and lecturer for the Feldenkrais Method organization where he was nicknamed “Feldendoc.” He invented a skeleton structure that was fully articulated through the use of elastic cords woven through joints for demonstrating skeletal function. He started a home business making skeleton kits which he handmade and sold worldwide.
John had many interests and loved the outdoors. A windsurfer was strapped on his car throughout the summer to take advantage of after-work hours wind surfing at “The Quarry Club.” He involved his family in snow and water skiing, sailing, windsurfing, tennis, golf, and encouraged his children’s interests. He enjoyed woodworking and helped with horse carvings for the Salem Riverfront Carousel. John was recognized for his contributions to the Salem Y Service Club. He was a loving and supportive husband, father, and grandfather, and will be greatly missed.
John was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his beloved wife Hilda Thomas Chester; brother Martin David and his wife, Iris Chester of Houston, TX; son Michael Chester of Portland, OR, daughter Julia Chester of Dallas, TX; and son John and his wife Paula Chester of San Francisco, CA as well as nephews Bryan and Gary Chester of Austin Texas, and Andrew Chester of Houston. The family is deeply appreciative of the assistance of his caregivers.  A celebration of life will be held at a later time.


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Guest Book Entries

Wonderful life and such a sweet man!!

Caroline Chester, Orland Maine

What an amazing Chester, this guy was!  Not sure we ever met, but I sure wish we had!! He will be missed and remembered by all who knew and loved him. 

Peace be with you.

Elizabeth Chester McCarley O’Shea
(Sue McCarley’s Daughter) 
Nashville, Tennessee 

I send you all greetings and condolences. I am Sam Chester Sr’s grand daughter from Chattanooga, TN. I hope you all find solace in God’s comfort

My heart goes out to you

I worked in the pain program at Salem Rehab. with John, more often than not called Dr. Chester by all of the staff members. He was highly respected by all of the pain team members. Many took an interest in Feldenkrais as a pain intervention method because of him. All of the team sought his insights and counsel when dealing with patients who were struggling to get better. Besides being the medical leader of the team, he also was the spiritual leader of the group. 
John was very caring and knowledgeable about pain management strategies. He was a model for the way physicians and therapists should care for patients with chronic pain. When he retired from Salem Rehab. he was sorely missed, but his ideas and spirit carried on with that team. He was an inspiration to that group, and I am thankful for having the opportunity to work with him.
My condolences to the family. 
John Tracy, former Rehab. program manager at Salem Hospital

I worked at Salem Hospital Rehab with Dr. Chester, he always had a big smile and sincere hello...
He was a dear man and a true gentleman...he sure loved his Miss Hilda and driving her car..
He made the world a better place .

Our mother, Julia Chester Chandler, has such important happy memories of time spent with her Chester cousins, and remembers cousin John B Chester as a “remarkable man” in every way.  Although we never got to meet him, we heard enough stories about him to agree with that descriptor, especially remembering that he and Hilda (and daughter Julia) came all the way to New Mexico to spend a week with our mom and dad in Ruidoso.  His was a life well lived.

Sending love and prayers to Hilda, Michael, Julia, and John.  

Julia, Cynthia, Rob, and Laura’s

I found a copy of my birth certificate.  I was born in 1958 at Tripler Army hospital.  1st Lt. John B. Chester Jr. signed my birth certificate.  I have lived in middle TN since 1963.  I am thankful for Dr Chester's service to our country and his profession.

Julia, we were so saddened to hear about your father's passing.  He is a brilliant example of a life well-lived.  One spent in decades of service to others, both to his patients and his country.  We know your dad will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved him.  As fellow islanders, we feel a shared bond with your family through your Hawai'i connections and we grieve with all of you at this time.  <!--[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]> -->

Good memories of John's teaching at the Feldenkrais trainings in the 90's. What kind and generous people, Hilda and John! Now close to our retirement, we just let go of the functionalized skeleton that John guided us to construct, passing it on to another new Feldenkrais trainee. It was so much fun! The legacy lives on...
Warm regards to family and we know he'll be missed...