Obituary: Kenneth LeRoy Chichester
August 24, 2012
Kenneth LeRoy Chichester, 92, passed away at his home in Coleville on August 22, 2012. Kenneth was born at home on Feb ruary 4, 1919 in rural Smith Valley to parents Bruce and Ella Chichester during an outbreak of the Spanish Flu. His Aunt Cora Sayre of Smith Valley remembered going to get the doctor and getting stuck in the snow in an old automobile. A man with a team of horses pulled her out and by the time the doctor arrived, Kenneth’s grandmother and a neighbor had delivered him.
Kenneth’s maternal grandfather, Cyrus Smith, his grandfather’s two brothers and two of their partners arrived in Antelope Valley in the summer of 1859 with a herd of cattle they brought over mountain passes from Stockton. When the weather got bad they took them down the river to present-day Smith Valley. They were the first non-natives to spend the winter there, hence the name Smiths Valley after the three brothers.
His father Bruce was born to English pioneers who settled in Coleville in 1878. Bruce attended business college in San Jose and subsequently worked for JS Cain at the Bodie bank for 10 years saving $10,000. On his way home from Bodie, he spent his savings on a herd of sheep, which were sold during World War II in exchange for cattle. In 1915 Bruce married Ella Smith, who received her RN degree in Oakland, California. Through hard work, Bruce and Ella expanded and bought land and grazing rights and raised their four children in the house that still stands on the Chichester Ranch in Coleville.
Kenneth spent his entire life on the ranch at Coleville, except for the four years that he served in the army in Australia, guarding the rail system against the threat of a Japanese takeover, and in the Philippines and New Guinea. Kenneth went to the Little Walker range with cattle starting in 1927 at the age of eight and continued to do so for nearly eighty years. In his younger days, he was a champion roper and respected horse trader and was honored in his eighties as Grand Marshall at the Bishop Mule Days. He married Alice Jordan in 1942 and they had a son, Lloyd. In 1948 he married his second wife Mildred Mortimer who passed away in 1991. Kenneth married Judy Schmidt in 2000.
Kenneth is preceded in death by his parents, his first wife Alice, his second wife Mildred and his siblings Dwight and Katherine. Besides his son Lloyd and wife Judy, he is survived by two granddaughters, Ella and Farah, great grandson Cole Chichester Segall, his sister Alice, and seven nieces and nephews.