James and Mae Chester, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of James and Mae Chester


James W. Chester and his wife Mae (Fitzgerald from New Vernon, Indiana) live in Forest Park and have a son, James Warren Chester, who is also practicing law in Valparaiso.

I was born in Dwight, Illinois April 4, 1911, of Warren Paul Watkins, (a veteran of the Spanish American War) and Ella Louise (nee Chester). I lived with my maternal grandparents on a farm in Morgan Township. My grandmother adopted me when I was 4 at the death of my mother.

I attended grade school in Morgan at the Adams one room school with Dora Stoner the teacher. We moved to Valpo and I attended Gardner School, and then Central. The farm was sold around 1918 and grandfather entered the hardware business, Chester & Son, where Krudup & Benton and then Benton's Hardware were.

I graduated from Valparaiso High School in 1931 and enrolled in pre-law at Valparaiso University. Graduated from Valpo law school in 1935 by doubling up on courses during the year and taking summer courses at Iowa University Law School. I was inspired to take law by my grandmother's brother, who was Congressman James G. Strong from Blue Rapids, Kansas, for many, many years. He was Chairman of the House Banking and Finance Committee. My grandmother was campaign manager for Will R. Wood, U.S. Congressman, and in my time I served for 6 years as campaign manager for Charles Halleck, our Republican Congressman.

I passed the bar in 1935 and went to work for Grant Crumpacker as a clerk. Then I went to work for Lewis Keller for deputy county clerk. He was like a father to me. I then decided to run for prosecutor with the backing of Lewis Keller, Bill Forney, Judge Jensen and Judge Rockwell, After serving as prosecuting attorney for 4 years, I decided to go into private practice and joined E. J. Ryan in 1949 and was associated with him until his death in 1951. I have been practicing law in Valparaiso for 40 years.

I have been on the hospital board for 11 years, now vice chairman. I am a 32nd degree Mason and belong to most all the bodies, also a member of the First United Methodist Church. I was president of Northern Indiana Bank and Trust Company, formerly Farmers State Bank, from 1960 to 1966, and now Chairman of the Board. * * * Mr. Chester passed away December 10, 1975. Attached is a brief tribute from the Board of Directors of Northern Indiana Bank & Trust Co.


With profound regret and the knowledge that we have lost a true friend and valued advisor, we the Directors of The Northern Indiana Bank and Trust Company hereby record our deep sorrow on the death of James W. Chester on December 10, 1975.

Dynamic and vital, he gave of himself without limit and earned wide and abiding respect as attorney, politician and civic leader. His interests were wide in scope and he played a major part in the business and industrial and community life of Porter County and in the affairs of the State of Indiana.

Always thoughtful and generous, he had a deep interest in people in all walks of life and of all ages. His courage, energy and strength of character made association with him a privilege not often equaled in personal or business relationships.

In his eighteen years as a member of this Board of Directors, his loyalty, keen perception and sound judgment formed a steady bulwark of strength which will be long remembered. He was a wise counselor and a good friend. His loss will be profoundly felt.

Source: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County. 1976. A Biographical History of Porter County, Indiana. Valparaiso, Indiana: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County, Inc. 180 p.
Page(s) in Source: 88-89

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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