|Birth: ||Sep. 2, 1949|
|Death: ||May 21, 2011|
Rev. William H. Chidester (1949-2011).
A pastor who was admired for his skill as a preacher, counselor, and manager in 25 years at Sylvania United Church of Christ, died Saturday in the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio Hospital. The Rev. William H. Chidester was 61. He learned last summer that he had cancer of the bile duct but became ill recently with reduced liver and kidney function and infections, his son, Brice, said. Pastor Chidester was a longtime and public advocate for organ donation and for equity in transplants. He received a liver donation in 1989, six years after he learned he had primary sclerosing cholangitis, a disease of the bile ducts of the liver. In 1997, then-Gov. George Voinovich appointed him to the Second Chance Trust Fund, a group working to solve a shortage in organ and tissue donors through awareness and education. He also wrote columns on organ transplants and donations over the years for The Blade's Pages of Opinion. In 1997, he addressed a thorny issue: Should James Earl Ray, the convicted assassin of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., get a liver transplant to extend his life? "If my own transplant taught me anything, it was that I needed a new liver and could do nothing to get it," Pastor Chidester wrote. "All the prayers, insurance, all the things I did to stay healthy meant nothing unless someone I did not know helped me, and did so simply because that was the way people in a caring and compassionate society lived and acted. "My transplant wasn't done because I deserved it," he wrote. "Neither should James Earl Ray be denied because he does not deserve it." Ray ultimately died without receiving a transplant. In the years Pastor Chidester awaited a transplant - at one point, he was told he'd have to pay $100,000 up front - "he in many ways had to come to terms with dying," his son said. "He viewed everything after the transplant as a gift from God." The transplant was covered by insurance, Pastor Chidester wrote in 2002. "It's been a long and sometimes bumpy road, but I still have my 'new' liver and I love every day of my 'second chance' at life," he wrote. He was installed at Sylvania United Church of Christ in April, 1986, and most recently held the title of senior pastor. "He cared deeply about the people in that congregation. He loved them all," said Al Palmer, a church member and a friend. "He felt he was pastor to everybody. There was no distinction in regard to your political beliefs, your whatever. He said we were all children of God, and we were all equal in that sense to him." Pastor Chidester made the time over several days each week to research and write his Sunday sermon, his son said. Every Saturday night, his wife, Sharon, read over the next morning's sermon and offered suggestions. Mr. Palmer said: "He was a terrific preacher. People who came to visit were always inspired by the words he spoke from the pulpit." "He was in every sense of the word a pastor," Mr. Palmer said. "As a teacher, as a spiritual leader, as a manager, Bill was good at all of them." He was sensitive to the needs of the church's staff, and he comforted the ill. He offered pastoral counseling, no matter when the phone rang. "He felt the worst thing we could do is turn away from someone in need because we didn't agree with their beliefs," his son said. "His focus was around community more than anything else. He would often talk to me about [that] it's important to be spiritual and religious, but religion is about the community of the church." He liked a good joke and liked to laugh, Mr. Palmer said. "He was fun to talk to. You could talk to him about anything" - from basketball's March Madness to theologian Reinhold Niebuhr - Mr. Palmer recalled. "He was comfortable in all those ways. He was a good friend," Mr. Palmer said. He was born Sept. 2, 1949, in Coschocton, Ohio, to Leola and the Rev. Brice Chidester, a United Church of Christ minister. He grew up in St. Louis, where he went to high school. He received a bachelor's degree in business from Miami University. It was in the religion course he took that he found his interest in the church. "He knew from his father being a minister what was involved," his son said. He received a master of divinity degree from Yale Divinity School and a doctorate of ministry from Eden Theological Seminary, of which his father was an alumnus. He was pastor of the United Church of Christ in Sycamore, Ohio, about 40 miles southeast of Toledo, from 1975 to 1986. In the 2000s, he organized several church trips to Europe. A highlight was visits to sites in Turkey significant to the early church, his son said. He was a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. After his transplant especially, he played tennis and walked. "He made every effort to stay fit," his son said. Surviving are his wife, Sharon, whom he married in 1973, son, Brice Chidester, daughter, Dr. Sara Chidester, sister, Mary Jane Garner, brother, Walt Chidester, and two grandchildren. At Pastor Chidester's request, his body was donated to the UT Medical Center. Memorial services are to be at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Sylvania United Church of Christ. Calling hours at the church are to be from 6-8 p.m. Monday. The family suggests tributes to the church or a charity of the donor's choice.
Published in Toledo Blade on May 22, 2011.
Body donated to medical science
Specifically: At Pastor Chidester's request, his body was donated to the UT Medical Center.
Created by: Michael Harrington
Record added: May 22, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 70204164