HOLDEN, Mass. - Mr. Chester Vilian, 87, of Holden, died peacefully on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012 under the loving care of his family and the staff of Knollwood Nursing Center and Beacon Hospice.
He leaves his children, Alan T. Vilian and his wife, Donna, of Holden and Linda L. Lukason and her husband, Peter, of Worcester; his sister, Stasia Jablonski in Alabama; his grandchildren Paul M. Lukason and his wife, Wendy, of Douglas and Jennifer L. Lukason and her fiancée, Jeremy Skorinko of Worcester; his great-grandson, Caleb J. Lukason and the "love of his life" for the past 17 years, Clara Santullo of Sturbridge; and nieces and nephews.
Chester was born on March 21, 1925 in Worcester, son of the late Joseph and Mary (Zabierek) Vilian and was raised in the Green Island neighborhood. Like many other young men his age he enlisted in the armed services in 1943. He honorably served his country during World War II in the United States Army in its 38th Infantry. In his selfless service to his country he served in the European African Middle Eastern Theater of Operations as part of the 2nd Infantry Division. He too, crossed the English Channel and landed on Omaha Beach near St. Laurent-Sur-Meron in the infamous D-Day Plus One Invasion at Normandy. Later wounded in battle he was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Chester's dedication to defend his country helped pave the way to the many freedoms we presently enjoy. His proudest moment was marching from Champs-Elysses to l'Arc de Triomphe at the end of the war. Chester rightfully enjoys membership in what author Tom Brokaw coined, "The Greatest Generation" and for this we remain forever indebted to Chester and all veterans.
Upon returning from the war, he married E. Louise Harris on October 12, 1946. With the help of his family and friends, including Frank Lapriore, they built their own home in Holden in the 1950's, bartering for labor and using the lumber from two three-decker homes in Worcester. They enjoyed the rewards of their labor and shared their time during the winters beginning in 1975 in Port St. Lucie and Stuart, Florida.
Skilled with his hands, Chester defined what it meant to be a hard worker. He learned the building trade and started a family business, Holden Home Modernizing, Inc. in 1966. He retired in 1996 to the capable hands of his son, Alan, who now runs the business.
His wife, Louise, died November 21, 1992 after 46 years of marriage.
In June of 1995 Chet met Clara Santullo while dancing at the SAC club of Shrewsbury to the organ music of Elliott Lockwood. They loved to dance, especially the polka, and were a sight to behold and admire when on the dance floor. Soon thereafter, they built their own home in Fort Pierce, Florida and with a new zest for life they took dozens of cruises including trips to Spain, Italy, France, and Atlantis. They belonged to the Italian-American Club in Fort Pierce; loved playing cards and enjoyed home cooked Italian food with their many friends and family. They also spent many enjoyable times with Clara's family in Sturbridge. Chester was a past member and president of Holden Lion's Club, member of Chaffins Men's Club and its bowling team, and past member of the Jewish Community Center, where he loved to swim. Other interests included deep sea-fishing and a good game of blackjack with his Florida friends and an occasional trip to Mohegan Sun.
Family and friends will honor and remember Chester's life by gathering privately in Heald & Chiampa Funeral Directors – The Sumner House, 5 Church Road, On the Common, Shrewsbury Center. Rev. Paul T. O'Connell will officiate. Burial with military honors will follow in Grove Cemetery, Holden.
Honor Chester's memory with a contribution to Why Me, 1152 Pleasant St., Worcester, MA 01602 or The Salvation Army, ARC, 72 Cambridge St., Worcester, MA 01603.