Buster Tom Chidester of Las Cruces passed away at his home on Tuesday, July 7th 2020. He was born to Hubert and Mamie (Black) Chidester on February 4,1923 in Tatum, NM. He graduated from Tatum High School and attended New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts before enlisting in the Army Air Force during WWII. He served as an aerial bombardment gunner and occasionally filled in as a photographer in campaigns over France, the Ardennes, the Rhineland, and Central Europe. Near the end of the war, he participated in Operation Chowhound which airdropped food to starving Dutch citizens affected by famine in the Netherlands.
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After the war, he returned to college and founded the SAO fraternity which later was chartered into Theta Chi. He finished his degree in vocational agriculture and began teaching at Gadsden High School where he met his future wife, Lulubelle (Heizer) Chidester. They were married in 1950 before he was commissioned into the Air Force during the Korean War. He served the next 20 years in various assignments including Biggs AFB, Walker AFB, Lowry AFB, French Morocco, Spain, Ohio, Louisiana and California until his military retirement. He did not let moss grow under his feet as he took over in many roles as the American Red Cross Field Director, as secretary for the Mesilla Valley Retired Officers’ Club, and as Las Cruces Community Theater Bylaws secretary. He was a long-time rural letter carrier for the east side of Las Cruces and was well known for his friendliness to the people on his route. He owned many rental homes that kept him busy in addition to running his bus bench advertising business. He was instrumental in running the soup kitchen at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church for several years. Buster could be counted on by his children’s friends to provide a warm nurturing environment for them when they hit a rough patch or needed a little extra help in picking themselves up. He was always up for sharing stories about how life used to be and make everybody chuckle about his stories.
Buster is mourned by his wife Lulubelle, his sister, Jo Wanda Cramer, his brother, Jess Chidester, his children, Mark Chidester (Beth), Phillip Chidester (Kerry), Richard Chidester all of Las Cruces, Teresa Ethen (Stephen) from the Virgin Islands, son-in-law Ray Alvarado of Colorado and former exchange student Katherine Toftild from Denmark. His eight grandchildren include Jobeth Mills (Andy), David Hawkins (Kelsey), Nick and Kaylea Chidester, Michele Chidester, Jessica Evans, Caroline and Isabel Ethen and three great-grandchildren, Aubry, Brielle and Case.
Buster was preceded in death by his parents, his ‘second’ mother Gertrude, his brothers Sam, Buddy, and Turner (Red) Chidester, his brother-in-law William Cramer and his daughter Victoria Chidester.
A public gathering will begin at 1 pm, Monday, July 13, 2020 at Getz Funeral Home followed by a memorial service to begin at 2 pm. Current state mandates due to the pandemic will be enforced. Livestreaming will be available at getzcares.com.
In Buster’s memory, donations can be made to Honor Flight.