June 17, 1933 – October 23, 2020
It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of a true Nanaimo hero, Chester Nelson Shepherd. Chester passed away peacefully Friday, October 23rd at the age of 87, at the Palliative Care unit at NRGH.
Chester was predeceased by his loving daughter Charlaine, his brothers Raymond and Pat, his mother Mary and his father Nelson.
Chester was survived by the love of his life, Karen, his wife of 68 years, his son Nelson (Nick) and wife Chris, his four grandchildren Nathan and wife Melissa, Shane, Kyle and wife Ashley and Nelson, his seven great grandchildren, Abbey, Grady, Linden, Mia, Gabe, Thomas and Jazmine, his sister Lorraine, his nieces Louise, Carol, Morgan, Cathy and his nephews Mike, Ronnie and Kenny.
Chester, also regularly referred to as “Mr. Nanaimo”, was born June 17, 1933. Without question Chester lived life to the fullest, the type of life most people could only dream of. Chester loved more than anything, the Shepherd family and also the City of Nanaimo, both of which he was extremely proud.
Chester was the fourth of six generations of Shepherds in Nanaimo and he was also very proud of the part the Shepherd family played in the history of Nanaimo. Chester always put his family first and he would do ANYTHING to protect and support them no matter what the situation.
While Chester was often known as the “toughest SOB” in Nanaimo, he was also the most loving, generous, caring, kind, daring and fun person one could ever meet. He had the ability to light up any room with his huge smile, twinkling eyes, his happy whistle which you could hear down the street and his fearless attitude. Chester always did what he thought was the right thing to do. Once or twice that created a disturbance, but he didn’t let anyone tell him otherwise.
He was a true gentleman, the best husband, brother, father, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle and friend you could ever ask for. He had 10 lifetimes of infamous “Chester Stories” as well as both life saving and near death experiences. He truly set a remarkable standard and hard act to follow, not only for his son, daughter, grandsons and other family members, but to many other people he touched in his life. Many people say he was like a father to them or “Uncle Ches” because he loved anyone close to him unconditionally.
Chester worked extremely hard from the time he was a young child. His father, Nelson died in a tragic mining accident in 1937 trying to save his cousin. Nelson was survived by his wife, Mary and 4 children. Chester quit school at the age of 14 to help support his mother and 3 siblings. He started out logging with Elk Bay Logging in 1948 and then Northwest Bay Logging in 1949 where he cheated death in a severe accident running a donkey machine which put him in the hospital for months. This is where he met his wife Karen and they started their life together raising a beautiful family.
From 1951 to 1952 he worked for Canadian Forest Company, a Fireman on a steam locomotive, Omenica Sawmill and Crown Zellerback. From 1957-1964 he was also a truck driver for Scholfield & Malpass followed by W.H. Malkin delivering groceries and freight up and down the island.
From 1964-1971 he ran a tug boat for Eureka Saw Mill. He also operated Van West Towing with partner and friend, Ted Annable. Finally, he worked as a longshoreman at Empire Stevedoring from 1971 with his life long best friend, Jack Gerlock where they created a book worth of laughs over the years until he retired in 1995.
Chester no doubt left a lasting impression on the Nanaimo waterfront. He spent a lot of his life on the water and loved boating as well.
In 1962 Chester realized his life vision with the purchase of the family Protection Island property. He spent a lifetime of hard work with friends and family, including his first cousin Larry Slogar, building a paradise that most people could only dream of.
Little did he know at the time that this would provide a means to bring his family together for a lifetime of memories for Shepherd generations to come. No doubt he was his happiest when on Protection Island where he spent time with his family until his last days.
Chester was involved in many things during his lifetime. He was an avid diver with friend, Am Charmley and they took part in founding the Devil Fish Club. He was involved in the original Nanaimo Search & Rescue, a volunteer fireman at Northfield Fire Hall, the Mid Island Racing Association, a member of Legion 256, a Blood Donor for over 35 years and he was also a Nanaimo Yacht Club Member since 1983.
Chester and Karen’s strong sense of values, their loving and caring manner and unconditional love for each other and their family, have shone through and made their family who they are today. Chester will be remembered for the beautiful proud man he was, both inside and out and will forever live on in all of our hearts, the memories we shared, never to be forgotten.
Due to Covid 19 a private service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Canadian Cancer Society or Legion 256.
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