William J. Chestnut, 72, chauffeur, gospel singer

January 24, 2004

William J. Chestnut, a retired chauffeur and gospel singer, died of renal failure Sunday at Union Memorial Hospital. The Northeast Baltimore resident was 72.

Mr. Chestnut was born and raised in Green Sea, S.C., and moved to Baltimore in the 1950s. He was a meatpacker for Albert F. Goetz Inc. and Dukeland Packing Co. Inc. before going to work as a chauffeur for Frederick P. Winner Distributing Co. in 1981. He retired in 1992.

For more than 20 years, Mr. Chestnut, a tenor, had been a member and served as manager of the CBS Trumpeteers, a gospel group. Founded in Baltimore in 1945, the group originally sang on WCAO-AM radio and has since performed at the Apollo Theater in New York and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn. It has also toured Europe.

Mr. Chestnut's voice can be heard on the group's compact disc If You Live Right Heaven Belongs to You.

Mr. Chestnut was a trustee, deacon and choir member at Greater Hope Church of God in Christ, 314 N. Gilmor St., where services will be held at 10 a.m. today.

Survivors include his wife of 33 years, the former Marlene Diggs; three sons, Tony Chestnut, Darren Chestnut and William Chestnut Trayham, all of Baltimore; six daughters, Wanda Wedlock, Sharlene Mickey, Deborah Chestnut, Crystal Chestnut, Mary McCoy and Patricia Grate, all of Baltimore; a stepdaughter, Lisa Lambert of Baltimore; a brother, John T. Livingston of Loris, S.C.; four sisters, Nellie Kellam of Baltimore, Louise Hemingway and Brenda Green, both of Loris, and Geraldine Rogers of Tabor City, N.C.; 16 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren.

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