Henry Jerrell Chesney, of Shawnee, passed away Oct. 20, 2020.
Jerrell was born on Dec. 18, 1932, to Charles Earnest and Edna Geneva (Sanders) Chesney in the dark, devastating days of the great depression outside of Rocky, Oklahoma, in the farm-home of William and Olive Etsell, who were kind enough to provide a place for his homeless family and in which his mother gave him birth. He was the fifth of six children.
On Aug. 4, 1951, he married Peggy Joyce Bergman of Weatherford, Oklahoma. To this union there were three children: Mitchell Allen Chesney, Mark Owen Chesney and Marquita Chesney Prescott. He and Peggy have lived in Shawnee for 63 years.
He graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in 1955 where he was a first team All Oklahoma Collegiate Conference basketball player. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. He also earned a master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma and also completed other advance post-graduate studies at the University of Oklahoma.
After graduating from SWOSU, he coached high school basketball at Anadarko High School for two years (1955-1957). He then coached at Shawnee High School for 10 years (1957-1967), four years of which he was also athletic director. He was assistant Shawnee High School principal (1963-1967) and assistant superintendent of Shawnee Schools (1967-1974). He was at Cameron University as the assistant business manager (August 1974-February 1975). In 1975, he served as the chief financial officer at Langston University (February 1975-July 1975). Lastly, he served as the chief executive officer of the governing Board of Regents for Oklahoma State University and A&M Colleges, retiring as chief executive officer emeritus on July 1, 1991, after 16 years of service to the Regents.
During his years as basketball coach in Shawnee, he was active in athletic leadership activities, serving on the Oklahoma Coaches Association Board of Directors, as Chairman of the Coaches Association Save Athletic Committee, as Platform Speaker that transformed the Oklahoma High School Athletic Association to the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association and coached the All-State South Basketball All-Stars in 1964.
He was active in numerous community and civic affairs, being past president of Kiwanis, serving on the board of directors of Kiwanis, the Salvation Army, United Way, Red Cross, Jaycees, Camp Fire Girls, Founder and Chairman of Sponsors of Worthy Endeavors, three terms as President of the Colt Baseball World Series and founder, organizer and several years as Chairman of the Oklahoma-Texas Faith-Seven All Star Basketball Bowl, dedicated to supporting various charities. (Faith-Seven Bowl is celebrating its 54th year.) He was named Shawnee’s Citizen of the Year in 1966 and in 1968 was selected and named one of the Outstanding Young Men of America.
From 1973 to 2006 he served in his church in a variety of administrative and ministerial positions. According to his views, he was driven “to serve the interests and purpose of the great Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ,” which to the end he felt “the cause of Christ is the greatest and most enduring cause of consequence, and reason to be continually grateful for the glorious gift summarized in John 3:16”. In his last years, he was a member of St Benedict’s parish where he enjoyed giving volunteer service to the St Vincent de Paul food pantry as his health permitted.
He loved Jesus Christ, OSU, his country, and Peggy and his family. He loved to play tricks especially on his grandkids as they were growing up. He would make up silly songs using their names, and he thought peanut butter cookies were the national favorite. He always tried to see the good in people and always enjoyed a good laugh. He was very generous to several charities and his family. Every year he and Peggy would personally write out birthday and Christmas cards with a check in them to his children, grandchildren and their spouses and to the great-grandchildren, up until this past June when his health significantly declined. It was important to them that their family knew that they were remembered.
Jerrell is survived by Peggy, his wife of 69 years; his sons Mitchell Allen (Joyce) Chesney and Mark Owen (Julie) Chesney and his daughter Marquita Chesney (Michael) Prescott; also his 12 grandchildren: Benjamin (Noell) Chesney, Melissa (Mark) Winters, Jason (Rachel) Chesney, Kimberly (Chris) Redford, Scott Chesney, Ammon (McKenzie) Chesney, McKay (Sam) Gasser, Ryan Chesney, Tanner (Kelli) Prescott, Tyler Prescott, Thomas (Lara) Prescott, Tara Prescott; 21 great-grandchildren: Breck, Mitchell E, Claire, Lillie, Hannah, Ethan, McKaylee, KoriAnne; Jacob, Evan, Caden, Emree, Adam, Ashley, Madlyn, Tyler; Kali, Tyson, Joshua, Andrew; sister, Deana Chesney Duncan; sister-in-law, Joyce Thornton Chesney; one nephew, Brent Chesney; four nieces, Damaris Giblet Dobbs, Denise Duncan, Melissa Ruth Chesney, Elizabeth Giblet Diffendaffer; and many grandnieces and grandnephews.
He is preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Charles Damon Chesney and Albert (Bert) Lovell Chesney; sisters, Joada Chesney Giblet, and Barbara Charlene Chesney Woodard; great-granddaughter, Kate Redford.
He fought a valiant battle with cancer for the last five and a half years.
The family would like to thank Tealridge, Touchmark, Physician’s Choice Hospice and LifeSpring Hospice, especially Aaron, Yajaira, Paul and James, for the incredible care given to Jerrell.
Due to COVID-19 concerns there will only be a graveside service for the family at Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford, Oklahoma. All others are invited to pay their respects at Walker Funeral Service in Shawnee on Oct. 27 or 28.
Posted online on October 26, 2020