Priscilla Penfield Chester
Tunbridge, Vt. — Priscilla Penfield Chester died on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in the loving company of her husband, four daughters, two grandchildren, and beloved dog, Monica. She suffered a stroke the previous week after having just celebrated her 88th birthday with her family in Tunbridge. Most of her grandchildren and her two great-grandchildren made it to her bedside to say goodbye during her last week while she was being cared for at Kendal in Hanover.
Born 1926 in New York City, Priscilla was the daughter of Helen and Dr. Wilder Penfield. She grew up in Montreal where her father founded the Montreal Neurological Institute. She had two brothers Wilder and Jeff Penfield, and a sister Ruth Mary Penfield Lewis. A German governess and early French school gave her a remarkable facility with language. She graduated from Wells College in 1948 with a degree in German literature.
Priscilla and Bill Chester were approaching their 65th wedding anniversary. Their fathers were roommates at Princeton University and a lifelong friendship developed between the two families. Priscilla first met Bill when she was nine years old, horseback riding in Wisconsin when her family took a cross-country trip to visit the Chesters. Many years later their courtship began on skis in the Laurentian mountains of Quebec. They married in Montreal in June 1949. After a honeymoon in Europe, they returned to Milwaukee, Wis. to raise a family of four daughters.
Priscilla was a passionate birder with an ability to identify birdsong. She learned how to fly at age 50 in order to be Bill’s co-pilot in a flying trip around the world in 1975. She was a founding member of The Penfield Children’s Center in Milwaukee for young children with special needs. A member of a book club for over 60 years, she developed some of her deepest friendships through their shared love of reading. She loved traveling by her husband’s side making worldwide friends.
Priscilla and Bill moved to their farm in Tunbridge in 1982 with their horses, llamas and dogs. Priscilla loved spending time in the summer and fall with her extended family on Lake Memphremagog in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. She remained active riding their Icelandic horses, canoeing, skiing, and making trails to walk in the woods. Her love of family was central to her life, hosting many joyful gatherings. Two weeks before she died she traveled on an expedition to Baja Mexico to view and interact with migrating whales.
Her two brothers and sister predeceased Priscilla. She leaves behind her cherished husband, Bill Chester; four daughters; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service to celebrate Priscilla Chester’s life will be held at The Tunbridge Church in Tunbridge on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, at 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Memphremagog Conservation Inc., Vermont Center for Ecostudies, or Penfield Children’s Center.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Boardway & Cilley Funeral Home in Chelsea, VT. A private message of sympathy for the family can be shared at www.boardwayandcilley.