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Chester L. Alwes Sr.

ALWES, CHESTER L. SR., (1921-2013), at 5:15 a.m. on January 13, 2013, the fiftieth day of his ninety-second year, the sweet soul known to us all as Ches Alwes slipped from its mortal body to begin the next phase of its spiritual journey.

Born the fifth of seven children to Frederick and Bessie Alwes in 1921, Mr. Alwes was preceded in death by both of his parents, three brothers (Frederick, Bernie and Eugene), two sisters (Lula Mae and Helen) and, most tragically, a daughter (Marjorie Winham, 2001). He is survived by his loving wife of sixty-seven years, Myra (Pound), two sons (Chester, Jr. and Mark), a daughter (Mary Ann Megahee), his younger brother Norman, sisters-in-law Patricia Alwes and Mildred Derr, ten grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Mr. Alwes was a life-long resident of Louisville, where he received his basic education, spent a productive life of work and raised his family. Despite the death of his father when he was but seven years old, he survived the Great Depression, the disastrous flood of 1937 and active service during World War II with the U. S. Navy (as electrician's mate on a minesweeper) to become a model father to his four children.

After the war, Ches and his brother Bernie founded Alwes Sign Co. on S. Shelby Street; despite modest beginnings, the company became a highly-successful purveyor of painted outdoor advertising billboards. Such was the company's success that it was purchased in the late 1950s by Naegele Outdoor Advertising, a national company based in Minneapolis. Mr. Alwes served some thirty years as supervisor of the new company's labor force.

Ches and Myra were devoted to the Baptist Church, attending Clifton, Bethany and Bashford Manor. In 1961, they became charter members of Bashford Manor, where Ches served in lay positions both official (treasurer, deacon) and practical (his love of children led him to work in the nursery). In retirement, the church came to play an even more prominent role, including his being known as the "Candy Man" because he always had gum, mints or some treat to dispense to the youngest churchgoers. He also became an accomplished wood-worker, crafting hope chests, toolboxes and exquisite drop-leaf tables.

Mr. Alwes was extremely well-read, conversant on an amazing number of topics and a crossword puzzle aficionado. He passed his love of reading to his children, encouraging them to excel in education and go on to successful careers of their own. Soft-spoken, he never volunteered his thoughts or opinions; but when asked, his sage advice and wise counsel became an important part of the person whom others came to admire. Indeed, Ches has been described by someone who knew him as "the epitome of quiet, positive graciousness, usually with an underlying sense of humor and playfulness." One of his grand-children posted the following statement on FaceBook: "The world lost one of the strongest men I have ever known this morning. He was an example of what a man should be and a major reason for me being the man I am today." Funeral arrangements are being handled by Highlands Funeral Home. Visitation will take place there on Friday, January 18, 2013 from 3 to 7 p.m. A funeral service for Ches will be held at First Baptist Church of Middletown on Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 11 a.m., Dr. James Cobban presiding. Interment will take place at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery following the service.

In lieu of flowers, condolences may be expressed as donations in memory of Mr. Alwes to either Bashford Manor or First Baptist Church of Middletown.

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Funeral Home

Highlands Family-Owned Funeral Home
3331 Taylorsville Rd.  Louisville, KY 40205
502-451-4420

Published in The Courier-Journal on Jan. 17, 2013
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