Gaiter, Chester E.
February 11, 2011

Fr. Chester E. Gaiter, SJ, died on Saturday, August 14, 2010, following a prolonged illness at the Fusz Pavilion in St. Louis, Missouri. At the time of his death, he was 70 years old and in his 50th year as a Jesuit.

Born in Junction City, Kansas, on October 29, 1939, Chester Gaiter grew up in Denver and became a convert to Catholicism with some of his family when he was ten years old. He attended Sacred Heart Grade School and Annunciation High School in Denver. He did a year of study at the University of Colorado at Denver before he decided to become a Jesuit brother. He began the novitiate at Florissant on March 10, 1960, and pronounced his vows as a Jesuit brother on March 12, 1962. He immediately began the brothers' juniorate program at Milford, Ohio. His first assignments were as the infirmarian for the Jesuit communities at Saint Louis University (1963-1967), St. Stanislaus Seminary (1967-1968) and Rockhurst High School (1968-1973). While in Kansas City he requested and was given permission to change grades from a brother to a scholastic.

In 1973 he began theological studies at the Divinity School at Saint Louis University, which led to his ordination on June 19, 1976, at Loyola Parish in Denver, Colorado. Following his ordination Fr. Gaiter did a year of pastoral internship at Ministry Training Services in Denver and then was assigned as associate pastor at St. Matthew's Parish in St. Louis. He was appointed pastor the following year, serving from 1978-1983. Following tertianship he joined the faculty at Cardinal Ritter Prep in St. Louis where he taught religion and did campus ministry for nine years. In 1993 Fr. Gaiter was asked to head a team that would take up residence at St. Joseph's Parish in East St. Louis, Illinois, to try to reach out to the underserved people in that part of the metropolitan area. Shortly after the Jesuits moved there, Fr. Gaiter began exhibiting signs of memory loss that necessitated his retirement from the ministry at the parish. He moved to the Jesuit Hall community where he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's.

He is survived by two brothers and three sisters.

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