Madison - Doctor Chester C Wang passed away on Friday, January 22, 2016, just a few days short of his 96th birthday. In his 95 years, Chester lived a fantastic life, with a wide range of fulfilling personal experiences and noteworthy professional contributions.
Chester was born February 2, 1920 in Henan Province, China, and grew up in Beijing. After surviving World War II, Chester moved to the US to pursue his dream of becoming a professor of United States history. Despite lacking any English language skills, any friends or family in the US (Chester was the first of his family to study abroad), and any financial support, Chester earned a Masters in Social Science (US Constitution and Courts System) from Colorado State University and a PhD in East Asian Studies from the University of Chicago (Chester chose University of Chicago over Harvard because Harvard didn't offer him any financial aid). To support himself along the way, Chester held jobs ranging from driving a taxi in Chicago, working in a canning factory in Washington, driving a farm tractor in Colorado, and sweeping up a barber shop.
With the assistance of two University of Chicago professors, Chester became a US citizen in 1962 and then moved to Los Angeles, where he was an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California for 2 years. With his first Fulbright Scholarship in 1964, Chester moved to Taiwan, where he met his future wife Sophie. Chester and Sophie spent their first years of marriage living in Honolulu, where their daughter Adele was born. The young family then moved to Madison in 1965 when Chester accepted a position in the East Asian Studies department at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, and their son Adlai was born in 1966. Chester would remain on the faculty until he retired in 1997. Chester's numerous professional accomplishments included a second Fulbright Scholarship which took him to Japan and Taiwan in 1977, academic papers presented at the universities around the globe (North America, Europe, Russia, Australia, Asia), and a long list of published academic papers and authored books.
Chester disavowed television, choosing instead to lead an active life filled with a wide range of intellectual and physical pursuits. Besides attaining full fluency in English, Chester also learned Japanese and Russian. His passion for music included a performance on Wisconsin Public Radio's Sunday Afternoons Live from the Elvehjem series. He was continually learning even later in life, auditing classes at MATC and at the UW. He was an avid outdoorsman, leading his family on many memorable (and sometimes comical) weekend camping trips across Wisconsin. He enjoyed his tennis leagues, his fishing, and even in his 80s would walk from his home on the near west side all the way to the campus. Chester's favorite pastimes included translating academic texts, practicing Chinese calligraphy, and discussing politics and philosophy.
Chester dedicated his life to being a fantastic husband and father, and prided himself on making a positive contribution to the world around him.
Services will be held February 2, 2:00 pm at Olbrich Gardens, 3330 Atwood Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin, 53704.
Cress Funeral and Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road
Madison, WI 53705
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Sophie...I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you.
Your friend at Tuesday Fitness Class....Judy McGettigan
I met Chester and Sophie some years ago at a UW ballroom dance and saw them at dance events through the years since. He was retired from work as a UW bibliographer, I thought. Chester was somewhat shy about dancing, but gracious always, and we often managed a successful foxtrot, with which he was pleased. My sympathies to Sophie and the rest of his families on the loss of this talented, pleasant, warm, man.
I was a tennis player with Chester. I can still hear him calling out "Ready" when he was getting ready to serve. Also, he would always give nice little bows. He seemed like just a nice, gentle man. My deepest sympathy to his family.
Chester was our neighbor for 14 years. He was always smiling, always courteous and always had a kind word. He was a pleasure to talk with over the fence. Chester will be greatly missed in the neighborhood.
Chester was a valued and esteemed librarian colleague in Memorial Library. We both had offices on the 4th floor, and he never failed to greet me with a warm hello whenever we ran into each other, including in the years after he retired from the library but continued to come in and work on his own interests. Phyllis Holman Weisbard
I remember Chester with fondness after working with him on many occasions at the Geriatrics Clinic at University Station. He always asked many questions, and the one's he forgot to ask Sophie remembered. I thought of Chester as a gentle and welcoming spirit. I feel fortunate to have known him.
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