In the early morning hours of Friday, December 2nd, 2016, Jerry Roy Chastain walked through the pearly gates of heaven into the arms of his loving Savior, who without a doubt, said, “Well done.” After an almost 8 month battle with stomach cancer, Jesus healed his body and Jerry entered those gates with thanksgiving. He was 72 years old.
Jerry was born on July 15, 1944, to Margaret Elizabeth Wells Chastain and Roy Jefferson Chastain in the Charleston hospital. He was raised on a beautiful farm with two sisters, Patsy Chastain Payne and Margaret Chastain Gattis, in Branch, Arkansas. His daddy taught him a love of baseball and all things Cardinals. He was a master gardener and became proficient at canning pickles, green beans, and jellies that members of our family fight over.
When Jerry was a junior in high school, he made eyes at a pretty little freshman named Gwendolyn “Sue” Law and she was not impressed. Funny, because he was voted “Most Handsome” his senior year at County Line High School, and was a hot shot on the basketball team. Sue gave in, and they dated throughout high school for 5 years before being married on September 5, 1964.
Jerry was involved in activities at Community Bible Church in Fort Smith, where he enjoyed the men’s bible study group the most. They were a brotherhood who ministered to our family during Dad’s illness and in it he formed many friendships. But those who remained most dear to him were the people from “down home,” the people who grew up in those same humble, simple times of fishing, riding horses, playing baseball, working cattle, and growing gardens.
When Jerry was just 15, he lost his own father, Roy Chastain, to cancer. He said after that, he most looked up to Opal Pistole (his neighbor, basketball coach, and Scout leader) and his Sunday school teacher, who had his class memorize Psalm 121—his favorite chapter in the Bible. Jerry was also preceded in death by his sister, Margaret Gattis, and his mother, Margaret Wells Chastain.
Jerry worked at Midwest Upholstery Supply in Fort Smith for his entire adult life. He recently retired and began rebuilding an old fishing boat, a 1947 Ford 8N tractor (that runs!) and making a garden every year that only he seemed to be able to accomplish out of all of the Chastains. He enjoyed hunting at Mt. Magazine with his brother-in-law, Ernie Reames, and rarely missed a Cardinals baseball game.
Jerry leaves behind his beautiful wife of 52 years, Sue Law Chastain. He is also survived by a daughter, Stephanie Chastain Wideman and her husband Brett, of Sand Springs, Oklahoma, and a son, Jerry Darren Chastain and wife Stacey, of Fort Smith. But the thing of which he was most proud were his 5 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister, Patsy Chastain Payne, and numerous nieces and nephews on both sides of the family, all of whom he loved dearly and all of whom were completely devoted to him.
The grandchildren include Ashley Wideman Canterbury and her husband Blake, Chelsea Wideman, Garret Chastain, Caroline Chastain, and Ben Chastain. They have memories of spending long weekends with Nana and Grandpa, playing the silliest of made-up games, running barefoot through the garden, playing catch with Grandpa, riding his 4-wheeler with him, and going home with them after church on Sundays. His great-grandkids, Emmrie, Grayson, and Caden share some of those same memories, but their favorite would probably be eating “Grandpa Casserole” when they visited. Nothing made him happier or more proud than these 8 children, and he said knowing what kind of people they were turning out to be and how they were being raised gave him peace to face his difficult journey toward his heavenly home, fully healed. What I hope he realized is they were turning out that way all because of him.
Sue, Stephanie, and Darren want to thank everyone who donated money for Jerry’s trips to M.D. Anderson, brought food, sent cards, made phone calls, etc. Every prayer lifted up Jerry and Sue, and we are so grateful for that. Sue, despite her battle with M.S. and other health issues, was able to re-gain her strength and care for Jerry every single day and until he left this world. It is amazing what a group of believers can do when two or more are gathered, and when we serve an awesome God.
Visitation took place at Brotherton Funeral Home on Sunday, December 4th, from 4-6 pm. The family held a private burial ceremony at Caulksville Cemetery in Caulksville on Monday, December 5th, at 10 am under the direction of Brotherton Brothers Funeral Home and Flower Shop of Charleston. A public celebration of Jerry’s life and of Jesus his savior took place at 2 pm that day at Community Bible Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Pallbearers were Mickey Whitman, Alex Jansen, Adam Reames, Mike Gattis, Kevin Gattis and David Payne.
Honorary pallbearers were Ernie Reames and Wally Gattis.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Hampton Cemetery in care of Simmons Bank, Charleston, Arkansas.