BLOOMINGTON — Rev. Chester C. “Chet” O’Neal, 82, died Thursday (Dec. 1, 2011) in Stockbridge, Ga., after a brief illness.
His celebration of life service will be at 11 a.m. Monday at the First Presbyterian Church, 2000 E. College Ave., Normal. The Rev. Larry Gaylord and the Rev. Susan Ryder will officiate. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday at the Calvert & Metzler Memorial Home, Bloomington.
Private family interment will be at Shiloh Cemetery, Hopedale, with the Rev. Jan Proeber officiating.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be made to New Covenant Community, Normal; First Presbyterian Church, Normal; or Marion Medical Mission, Marion.
Chet was born Oct. 19, 1929, in Upper Darby, Pa., the only child of Chester and Karlena Kruse O’Neal. They are both deceased. Chet and Betty Jane Cregar were married Sept. 14, 1963. Betty died in 1986. Betty’s twin sister, Letty Smith, and her husband, Dr. Peter Smith, are also deceased.
Surviving are Chet’s daughter, Jamie (Scott) McCauley, and grandchildren Zachary and Garrett McCauley, Palm Harbor, Fla. Also surviving are his sister-in-law, Margy (Norman) Birkey, Hopedale; nieces, Michelle Birkey, Chicago, and Debbie (Scott) Rassi, Atlanta, Ga.; and nephews, Eric Smith, Bloomington, and Bryan (Susan) Smith, Florida, and their extended families.
Chet married Sue Walker Crome on Dec. 15, 2000. She survives along with her children, Phil (Julie) Crome, Stockton; Sara (Don) Jones, Sparks, Nev.; and Aaron (Mary) Crome, Marshall; and grandchildren, Rachel, Jake, Luke, and Katie Crome; Linden Reid; Bailey Jones; and Thomas and Megan Crome. Sue’s siblings, Jim (Sharon) Walker, Bloomington; Ann (Ron) Olson, Florida; Bob (Sandy) Walker, Virginia, Ill.; and Kurt (Marla) Walker, Armington, and their extended families.
Chet graduated from Wheaton College, served in the U.S. Navy, and then graduated from McCormick Theological Seminary. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister and pastored congregations in Chenoa, Monmouth and Robinson. He also served as a probation officer for Lawrence and Crawford counties before working in the Robinson Correctional Facility as chaplain.
Printing presses, organs and trains fascinated Chet as a child. As an adult, he was a peacemaker, a man of the word and words, a pump organ enthusiast and model railroad engineer.
The grief felt at the loss of this fine man is shared by family, friends and those whose lives he touched unawares. Go in peace.
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