Lewis Vernon Chesser, Jr.

Photo of Lewis Vernon Chesser, Jr.
Rev. Lewis Vernon Chesser, Jr., of Fort Smith, Ark., passed away on July 20, 2020. He was born July 13, 1933, in Attalla, Ala., to Lewis Vernon Chesser, Sr., and Bessie Ophelia (Hicks) Chesser. Although his family moved around, including two stints in Washington, D.C., Lewis primarily grew up in Red Level and Andalusia, Ala., surrounded by his loving extended family. He was a proud graduate of the University of Alabama, where he received a degree in physics and also served as editor of Mahout magazine. Lewis loved watching sports. He was a lifelong Crimson Tide fan, although after moving to Arkansas, his second allegiance, with frequent frustration, was to the Razorbacks. After graduating from college, Lewis went to work as an engineer for Boeing in Seattle, Wash.. It was during this time that he met Elsie May ("Mazie") Louthan, who was traveling in the Seattle area during the summer of 1959. They were married the following year. Lewis enrolled in Duke Divinity School, where he completed a bachelor's degree in divinity in 1963. Upon graduation, he joined the North Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church, where he served as an elder in full connection, and in a mentoring role for numerous clergy, students, and others for most of his life. During his active career as a minister, he served North Arkansas United Methodist churches in Plumerville; Green Forest; Alpena; Fayetteville (the Wesley Foundation at the University of Arkansas, St. James, and Sequoyah); Fort Smith (Hendricks Hills); Waldron; and Charleston. He was also an accomplished poet who completed a Masters in Fine Arts in creative writing at the University of Arkansas; he was well known for his thoughtful Christmas season poems. In addition to being a minister and poet, Lewis was an excellent carpenter. He designed and built a cabin on his land near Green Forest, known to the family as "Chesserpeak," and he spent his retirement years lovingly restoring his 1890 Queen Anne Style Victorian home in Fort Smith, where he resided until his death. He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Gayle Nicholson; his sister, Jeanne Hinton; and his loving wife of 58 years, Mazie Chesser. Survivors include three children, Wib Chesser (Frances Wu) of Washington, D.C., Dawn Chesser (Scot Danforth) of Knoxville, Tenn., William Chesser (Alison Turner) of Fayetteville, Ark.; and five grandchildren, William Gill Giese of Oahu, Hawaii, Christopher Giese of Madison, Wis,. Leith Chesser and Lila Chesser of Washington D.C.; and Ares Chesser of Fayetteville, Ark.; along with numerous family members, ministry colleagues, former parishioners, and friends. Due to the current situation with Covid-19, a memorial celebration of Lewis Chesser's life will be scheduled at a later time. To offer online condolences, visit In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made through the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas and directed to the "Rev. Lewis V. and Mazie Chesser Memorial Fund for St. James United Methodist Church, Fayetteville, Ark." Gifts directed to this Fund may be mailed to UMFA, 601 Wellington Village Road, Little Rock, Ark. 72211. To make an electronic gift call the foundation at 501-664-8632 or donate directly through this link:

Published July 31, 2020

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