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Samuel J. and Esther Chester Arts Fund, Samuel J. and Esther Chester Medical Research Fund, and Louis and Goldie Chester Full Plate Kosher Food Pantry Fund
By Jean Cohoon / December 31, 2013 /   Loading Disqus...
“He followed his interests with a passion and always wanted to help people,” says Tony Del Vecchio of his longtime friend, Samuel Chester who died in July of 2012 at age 99, just months after his beloved wife, Esther, died at age 94.

Sam and Esther (Greenberg) Chester both were born and raised in South Providence. Sam graduated from Classical High School, earned an undergraduate degree in biology from Providence College (which later awarded him an honorary doctorate), and intended to become a doctor. But when his father became seriously ill, Sam returned home to take over the family business, Standard Wire Company.

He later sold the business to pursue medicine, not as a doctor, but rather as a cancer researcher. Sam helped develop a clinical test to detect early stages of colon cancer, tested cell therapy for the treatment of leukemia, and advocated for the use of an FDA drug, approved for combating heroin and alcohol addiction, in the treatment of melanoma.

It was through another passion, music, that Sam met his future wife. “Esther was an accomplished pianist and had a quartet. They needed a violinist and Sam was there,” Tony says. The Chesters were married for 50 years. Sam was a violinist for 28 years with the Rhode Island Philharmonic and founder (along with Tony and others) of the nonprofit Friends of the Music Mansion.

Esther earned degrees in fine arts and education from Rhode Island School of Design and a master of education from Rhode Island College. She was a high school art teacher and an award-winning artist, specializing in a medium known as gouache.

These funds honor the Chesters’ passions: the Samuel J. and Esther Chester Arts Fund will support arts education for youth; the Samuel J. and Esther Chester Medical Research Fund will support medical research with a preference for research in the areas of cancer or pain management; and the Louis and Goldie Chester Full Plate Kosher Food Pantry Fund, named in honor of Sam’s parents, will support the food pantry at the Jewish Seniors Agency of Rhode Island.
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