Raymond Monroe Chester, 74, departed this life on Monday, November 29, 2021 and is with his LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. That morning, Ray was happily reminiscing with his wife, Sue, on the many blessings he had with his family on Thanksgiving, including how each grandchild had loved on him, when his heart suddenly beat its last.
Ray entered this life in Berkeley, California on April 4, 1947. He was sedulous in music (guitar and voice), cars, models, sports, and backpacking. Ray was often described as a hands-on, inquisitive, tenacious, jack-of-all-trades, and a handyman par excellence. Ray attended BIOLA University where he met two pivotal professors who redirected his life and focus on God. There he married his bride in 1967 and together they embarked on a lifetime journey in ministry. Despite Ray’s dyslexia, he earned several degrees (BA, MA, & PhD), was a professor, ordained minister, missionary, pastor, Chaplin, counselor for juvenile offenders, mental health professional, an appointed member of multiple government boards, and much more. He served in churches, a psychiatric hospital, in hospice, and in universities, seminaries, and Bible colleges.
Ray lived this life with a passion for learning, growing and healing. He saw fellow missionaries dealing with intensely stressful situations, and he wanted to find a way to help. Ray believed God called him to guide people towards healing from the wounds they endured. He loved nothing more than to teach God’s word, to share the importance of history, and to help people see the walls that blocked healing, freeing them to pursue recovery.
As a writer, Ray saw himself following in the long history of village storytellers whose role is to pass on a legacy of tribal wisdom to the younger generations. The village Ray wrote to is the Body of Christ, and the stories he told are wrapped in His-story, God’s Holy Word. He encapsulated his real-world experiences by writing four novels to encourage people who find themselves on the brink of destruction—answering questions like ‘what do you do when you lose all that matters?’ Ray’s heart was focused on God and this too is mirrored in his books. His first novel was “The Old Man and The Butterfly”. A modern-day Berean, he loved God’s Word, reading through the Bible each of his 38 final years.
When asked what was most important to him, Ray often shared: God, his family, helping people grow, and 3 John 4 – “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” He walked as he believed; he was a devoted husband, loving father, tender grandfather, and comforter to many.
Ray is survived by his wife Sue of 54 years, his two sons Eric and Ryan (Roongrat); three grandchildren Zachary, Renée and Raze; his brother Robert (Nancy); his sister-in-law Joan; nephews Rob (Jennifer), Greg, and Peter; and nieces Jennifer and Amy (Tony); and their families.
The celebration of Ray’s life has been placed on hold and will be scheduled at a later date. His ashes will be scattered privately per his wishes.