Chester “Gillie” Chen of Kingston, Jamaica, was in the “best of health and spirit” until he was called home to his Lord on Monday, November 22nd, 2021, at age 81.
Chester was always happy. With his cavernous heart, he helped anyone in need. Singing off-key, he was always making a “joyful noise” around the house - whether cooking, gardening, or doing chores. When Chester asked how your day was, he genuinely wanted to know the answer. And when he looked you in the eye and told you to have a blessed day, you could feel his sincerity and love. His memory was laser sharp, his booming laugh contagious, and his humility inspiring. Chester was friendly with everyone who crossed his path in life, and his presence on this earth will be dearly missed.
As a young boy growing up in Jamaica, Chester was mischievous, smart, and inventive. He enjoyed spear fishing, soccer, spending time with his friends, and listening to early Ska - the musical precursor to Reggae. He graduated high school from the prestigious St. George's College in Kingston at the age of 16, after which he held several different jobs to save money for further education. At the age of 22, he moved to Boston, MA to attend Northeastern University on a work scholarship. It is there that he saw his first snowfall. He moved to Maryland in 1967, where he met the love of his life, Michele, a smart and beautiful French woman, at a party in Washington, DC. They were married at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in 1970. He completed his Doctorate in Organic Chemistry at the University of Maryland in 1972. Chester held several different jobs over his lifetime - from scientist, to teacher, to financial planner, but none was more important to him than his family. He was always there for his children, Derek and Stephanie, and his grandson Daniel, teaching them with love and by way of example. He was also a devoted husband, caring for his wife with unwavering love and support.
Though he was baptized and raised in the Catholic faith, Chester did not develop a close relationship with God and the Church until his adult years. A parishioner of St. Jane de Chantal parish in Bethesda, MD for several decades, he went on to become an ordained minister of the Catholic Church as a deacon in 2006, and has served at St. Jane de Chantal ever since. He wholeheartedly embraced his ministry as a deacon. He loved his parish, and dedicated the better part of his time to serving his community.
Chester is preceded in death by his parents Cecil and Marie Chen, brother Karl Chen, sisters Gloria Lynn Kee Chow, and Rose Marie Greta. He is survived by his loving wife Michele Chen, son Derek Chen (Catherine), daughter Stephanie Berry (Matthew), grandson Daniel Berry, brother Trevor Chen, sister Marjorie Poy, and many cousins, nieces, and nephews living across the country and world.
The funeral service will be held on Friday, December 3rd, 2021 at St. Jane de Chantal Catholic Church, 9701 Old Georgetown Rd, Bethesda, MD 20814. There will be a 45-minute viewing from 9:15 - 10 AM, followed by a mass from 10 - 11 AM. Directly following the mass he will be taken to the Gate of Heaven Cemetery, 13801 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20906, where there will be a short graveside service to bless his final resting place and commend his soul to God. Please remember that masks will be required at all times.
The funeral mass will be livestreamed for those who are unable to attend in person. Please use the following link: https://youtu.be/pnDPhLHy5IY
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Shady Grove Pregnancy Center, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and the American Cancer Society.
Shady Grove Pregnancy Center
16220 Frederick Rd # 118, Gaithersburg, MD 20877, Gaithersburg MD 20877
Little Sisters of the Poor
4200 Harewood Rd NE, DC 20017
American Cancer Society
P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City OK 73123