Dyer County Memorial Gardens - Dyersburg
2455 St John Ave
Dyersburg, TN 38024
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Allen Hester

1951 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Allen Hester Obituary
Allen Hester

Dyersburg, TN

Allen Hester, President & CEO of the Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce, died Friday, February 3 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife, Holly Finley Hester, son Andrew Hester (Karen) of Jackson TN, daughter Sara Hester of Murray, KY, mother June Strickland Hester, brother Howard Hester, and Sister Paula Jacquez, all of Memphis. He was preceded in death by his father William A. Hester, Sr., and a brother, John Hester. Mr. Hester is survived by two grandchildren, Evelyn and Sloan Allen Hester.

Mr. Hester was born in Memphis on June 25, 1951, the oldest of four siblings. He attended Oakhaven High School, graduating in 1969. He enrolled at what was then Memphis State University in 1969. He left college in the early 70's to pursue his lifelong interest in music; returned in the late 70's, graduating in 1980 with a degree in Journalism.

He began his reporting career in 1981 with the West Memphis Evening Times, moving quickly to become editor of the Germantown News in late 1982. After three years, Hester joined the staff of the Memphis Center City Commission as a marketing and communications manager for two years before leaving to help start a new weekly news publication in eastern Shelby County called the Shelby Sun Times.

After three years, Hester joined the staff of the Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce, where he rose from communications manager in 1992 to Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications by 2001. In January of 2002, he left Memphis to assume new duties as President/CEO of the Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce, where he remained for 15 years, serving the community with distinction. During his 15-year tenure in Dyersburg, Hester helped create over 2,500 new manufacturing jobs, raised over $3 million for economic and community development, increased chamber membership to over 500 members, and helped recruit industries such as Nortek, NSK Steering, Briggs & Stratton, Dot Foods and Develey Mustard & Condiments to the area, as well as several major expansions of existing industries.

Throughout his professional life, Hester always strove to improve his skillset through continuous education. In February 2001, Hester earned the national Accreditation in Public Relations title from the Public Relations Society of America, and was active in the Memphis PRSA Chapter for the next ten years. In June 2000, he graduated from the Institute for Organizational Management at the University of Georgia, a national training program for Chamber of Commerce managers.

Upon arrival in Dyersburg, Hester began a long series of professional roles in various organizations across the state, including the WestStar regional leadership class at UT-Martin, 2003. He was also a board member of the Tennessee Industrial Development Council from 2003-2005. He became a Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) through the American Chamber of Commerce Executives Association in 2005. He served on the board of the Tennessee Economic Partnership from 2004 to 2009, serving as chairman in 2008. In 2010, he earned the coveted Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) designation from the International Economic Development Council, becoming one of only about 150 people nationwide who hold both a CCE and a CEcD. Hester also was elected to the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce Executives board of directors and served as its president 2012-2013. He served two terms on the Tennessee Economic Development Council representing West Tennessee, as well as a term on the United Way of West Tennessee board from 2010-2016, becoming chairman of the Dyer County campaign in 2011. He served on the WestStar Board of Trustees 2008-2011, the Local Workforce Board Area 12 from 2002 to 2011, and was a member of the Dyersburg Kiwanis Club. Most recently, he was recognized as the Distinguished Man of the Year for 2016 by the Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce.

During his tenure, both in Memphis and in Dyersburg, the chambers won numerous awards for communications excellence from the American Chamber of Commerce Executives Association.

Beginning in junior high school, Hester had a deep and abiding love of music, and became an accomplished musician who played several instruments, primarily guitar and harmonica. He worked all over the Memphis area and traveled the country in popular dance and show bands, including the Natchez Band, Kuda Brown, The Hurricanes, The Distraxshuns and the Silver City Band. During his time in Dyersburg, he found time to perform with a local group called Second Opinion, and often played solo on guitar and harmonica at various venues in and around Dyersburg. Earlier in his career, he wrote music profiles, feature stories, technical columns, and record reviews for Memphis publications. His work was featured in the Memphis Flyer, Memphis Magazine, where he was music editor, and a national publication called Creem, where he wrote a technical column on recent trends in music manufacturing.

The family requests that memorials be made to the Dyer County Community Cancer Fund, P.O. Box 1055, Dyersburg, TN 38025, or to First United Methodist Church Music Ministry.

The family will receive friends from 5pm to 7pm on Friday, February 10th in the Dyersburg First United Methodist Church Sanctuary to celebrate the life of Allen Hester. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, February 11th at 2pm in the FUMC Sanctuary, conducted by Reverend Ed White, with interment to follow in Fairview Cemetery.

Dyersburg Funeral Home

Published in The Commercial Appeal on Feb. 5, 2017
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