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Chester “Chet” Lafayette Yeary of Prosser passed away peacefully on Thursday, October 26, 2023. Chester was born May 18, 1932, to Golden Yeary (Covey) and Jackson Yeary in his grandparents’ home on Sugar Run, Jonesville, Virginia. His mom passed away when he was 18 months old and he was raised by his grandparents Ma & Pa Yeary and Ma & Pa Covey because his dad ran moonshine at night and worked in the coal mines during the day. Due to helping grandparents work on their farms, he only attended school through the 5th grade. Chester enlisted in the Army on January 10, 1949, at the age of 16 years 8 months (he asked his father to sign papers saying he was 18), he caught a train in Jonesville and arrived at Camp Pickett, Blackstone, Virginia for Boot Camp on January 11. He served at Ft. Bliss, Texas, Ft. Lewis, Washington, and in May of 1950 he arrived at Camp Hanford, Washington. Chester was Honorably Discharged from Camp Hanford in 1951 when he was 19 1/2 years old. During his time at Camp Hanford, he would frequently visit a service friend that lived in Prosser where he settled. Chester was later introduced to Shirley Warwick and they married on July 23, 1955. Chester worked at ACM Feed for the Murphey Family. He eventually joined the IronWorkers Union Local 14 which led him to work at Hanford; missile silos in Missouri, Montana, and Nebraska in the 60’s; and many dams and bridges in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. The family did a lot of traveling during this time and had a large Ironworker “family.” In 1967 Chester & Shirley bought a service station (Chet’s ENCO, Prosser) and sold the business in 1971 and returned to the Ironworkers. Chester lost contact with his father after the Service, but Shirley always insisted that one day she would meet her father-in-law and reunite with the Yeary families in Indiana and Virginia. In June of 1976, the family loaded into a motor home and drove to Indiana to meet Jack, his wife and three half-brothers. They then traveled to Jonesville, Virginia and met many Yeary aunts, uncles, and cousins at our first Yeary Family Reunion. Loving relationships were made and there have been many trips to Indiana and Virginia since.
From 1981-1985, the Yeary’s owned and operated the Grape Leaf Restaurant in downtown Prosser. On the first day of operation they hosted Prosser’s first Wine and Food Fair Winemakers’ Dinner. Chester and Shirley built and operated a 120-unit mini storage and flipped HUD homes. He coached his son in youth baseball. When his daughters were on Prosser’s Royalty, he helped build and traveled with the floats to numerous parades. The family enjoyed numerous camping and horseback riding trips, and cruises. In 1989, the entire family enjoyed a Bahamas cruise, Disney World, Washington, DC and the Kennedy Space Center the day the Challenger was being returned on top of a 747 jet. He loved his family and will be fondly remembered by all who met him. He never ever met a stranger. He was a member of the Grandview Immanuel Lutheran Church.
Chester is survived by his children Joni (Bill) Penwell of Prosser, Tina (Gary) Murbach of Kennewick, and Rick Yeary of Prosser; grandchildren Jeremy Penwell, Dustin (Lindsy) Penwell, Derick Yeary, Tamese Yeary, Jon (Mallory) Murbach, and Chris (Elise) Murbach; great grandchildren Daxon and Beaux Penwell, Maddox, Paisley, Kase Murbach (with a fifth great grandson on the way); brothers Rex, Cecil, and Clarence Yeary and families; sisters-in-law Darlene Kenner and Patty Kautz and families; a special Virginia cousin Arlene Combs, and honorary daughters Julie and Babe. Proceeded in death by his wife, Shirley, his parents, his mother- and father-in-law Edna & Art Warwick, and his sister Gladys Bertling.
Viewing (9:30-10:30 am) and Service (11 am) will be held Monday, October 30 at the Sunnyside Smith Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, make a donation to “Make a Wish” or the charity of your choice in Chester’s honor. We want to thank Richland Prestige Assisted Living, United Energy Workers, Chaplaincy Hospice of Tri-Cities, Pastor Levi East from Hope for the Nations Church, and Smith Funeral Home for the special care provided to the family. Those wishing to sign Chester's online memorial book may do so at www.funeralhomesmith.com Smith Funeral Home is in care of arrangements.