Retired professor dies at age 72
Posted: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 11:13 am
Visitation was held Wednesday at White-Ranson Funeral Home in Union City. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. May 12 at Union City’s First Baptist Church.
Chesteen joined the UT Martin faculty in 1969, taught political science until he retired in December 2007 and completed a post-retirement teaching assignment in December 2009. He was named history and political science department chair in 1986 and also served as president of the Tennessee Political Science Association, the Tennessee County Services Association and the UT Martin Faculty Senate. He received a University of Tennessee Alumni Outstanding Teacher Award in 1991.
“Dr. Chesteen has a broad-based following of former students, faculty and lifelong friends within the region and beyond,” said Dr. Tom Rakes, UT Martin chancellor. “Richard’s contributions stem from a balance of political knowledge, scholarship and firsthand experience.”
In 1991, Chesteen announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination for the 1994 Tennessee governor’s race. At the time, he was serving as an Obion County commissioner, a post he held from 1982-94.
“You can’t tell the story of post-1970 UT Martin without talking about the influence Richard Chesteen had on generations of public service-minded students,” said Dr. Jerald Ogg, UT Martin provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “He epitomized ‘the campus that cares,’ and I was proud to see that as both his student and colleague.
“We didn’t always agree on every political issue, but that never mattered to Richard. What mattered was our incredible opportunity as educators to make a difference in peoples’ lives. I miss him already,” Ogg added.
Active in community service, Chesteen worked for many years on behalf of mentally retarded citizens in Obion County. He was an early proponent of community-based treatment and defended the rights of group homes to be located in existing neighborhoods. His community service was recognized in April 2001 when he received a Love Community Service Award from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
Dr. Ted Mosch, a long-time UT Martin colleague, said, “Richard was always a dynamic person. He always investigated new approaches to be used in the classroom. He assisted hundreds of students with their careers.”
Chesteen held degrees from Delta State University and the University of Mississippi and previously taught at Mississippi Delta Junior College.
Survivors include his wife, Gloria, and two children.