Paul L. Chester, teacher, court clerk

September 08, 1992

Paul L. Chester, a retired Baltimore City schoolteacher and former clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, died of cancer Aug. 31 at his home in the Harbor Court Apartments. He was 80.

Services for Mr. Chester were held Friday at Waters A.M.E. Church.

Mr. Chester was born in Baltimore, where he attended public schools and received his bachelor's degree in history from what is now Morgan State University in 1940.

He served with the Army in Europe during World War II and resumed his education after his discharge with the rank of first sergeant in 1946. He received a master's degree in education from Columbia University in New York in 1948.

He taught chemistry at schools including Harvey Johnson Junior High, Douglass High and Northwestern High.

He also spent time instructing students in two subjects of special interest to him, photography and chess.

Mr. Chester also continued his own studies, receiving a law degree from the University of Baltimore in 1969.

Following his retirement from teaching in 1970, Mr. Chester ran for clerk of the Court of Common Pleas and became the first black to win a citywide election to a courthouse post.

He was re-elected in 1974 but was forced to step down because of a conviction for malfeasance in connection with taking campaign contributions from employees in the clerk's office. His six-month sentence and fine were subsequently suspended following the resignation of a white court clerk who escaped indictment and prosecution in a similar case in exchange for giving up his job.

Mr. Chester was a founder and eventually president of a men's club known as the Baltimore Old Timers, whose members grew up and attended schools in East Baltimore. He was also active in another men's club, the Guardsmen.

In 1980, he became a founder of the Baltimore Friends, an auxiliary of the Girl Friends, a civic-social club to which his wife belonged.

His wife of a half-century, the former Georgianna McMechen, died in March.

Mr. Chester spent winters in Florida, where he enjoyed playing golf until becoming ill with cancer.

He is survived by a daughter, Paula Nocera of New York; a grandson, Jonathan Paul Nocera of New York; and four nieces, Peggy and Tania Araya, Vashti Vinson and Mary Watts, all of Baltimore.

The family suggested donations to the Waters A.M.E. Church, 417 Aisquith St., Baltimore 21202.

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