Chester A. BARNARD, 80, passed away October 6, 2021 in Longmont, CO. He was born in Denver, CO on June 6, 1941 to Fern (Dickenson) and Chester Barnard. Chester grew up attending school in Lyons. Chester married Sharel LaFollette on November 2, 1962. Chester is survived by his wife Sharel; children Sherri (Chad) Gerhardt (grandchildren Ryan and Kayla Richards), Randy (Julie) Barnard (grandchildren Joshua and Mason) as well as an aunt, cousins, nieces, nephews and great friends.
A memorial service will be held at the River Church in Lyons, CO on Saturday, October 16, 2021 at 1 p.m. (CORRECTION, this was incorrectly reported to the Lyons Recorder by Howe’s as being at 11 a.m.)
Chester was born June 6, 1941 in Denver, Colorado to Fern Dickinson and Chester A Barnard II. His early life was fraught with challenges, he lived with each of his parents for a short time, his paternal grandparents Mr. and Mrs. French in Berthoud and eventually when he was 9, he came to live with his maternal grandparents Floyd and Deulah Dickenson of Lyons full time.
Curly Ohline took Chester under his wing and was a mentor to him for many years. Through him Chester would begin to discover his love for the mountains and rock quarry work, something that would stay with him all his life.
School, however, was a different matter. Chester only made it through the 10th grade, as he would put it, “because I couldn’t copy off Art Lee’s papers anymore” and never went back. The outdoors was more to his liking, where he worked for the Boy’s Camp near Lyons.
His teen years introduced him to another passion: cars. Fixing up and tinkering vehicles into hot rods and spending time racing through the canyon became his life. He made his first car as a child with neighbor and friend Jerry Ribble, and learned he had a natural ability to make things go fast. He and his friends, usual suspects Jerry Leiding, George Wechsler, Art Lee, Albert Goranson, Robert “Bee” LaFollette (and others of whom we shall protect their identities), spent countless nights thundering through the North Canyon. Racing one another, all while trying to avoid the cops, or cruising downtown Longmont on a weekend night, became the staple of Chet’s youth.
Marie’s Bar was the place where pretty much all the couples in Lyons met. Chet would meet Sharel LaFollette, and by this time he was working steady with Hutchinson Homes in Denver framing houses. In 1962, barely 21, they were married, welcoming daughter Sherri the next year. Chet would still hot rod, much to Sharel’s dismay, but eventually that passion would turn to the garage, where he would spend his evenings fixing cars.
By the time the early 1970’s arrived, he and Sharel welcomed their second child, a son, Randy, in 1971. Chet was settling into a pattern of working all day in Denver and doing side jobs at night fixing cars for anyone who asked. He would build his own house, although he never actually finished it, falling victim to the old saying of a “carpenter who is too busy to finish his own home.” He’d also spend his weekends helping in-laws or friends with side construction projects. Chet loved being busy.
He would spend much of his free time at Valmont junkyard in Boulder. There he would scrounge parts, bring home unrecoverable wrecks and turn them back into working vehicles again. He became known for taking two smashed vehicles (of the same type…well, usually) cutting them in half and welding the two good halves back together. He loved spending time with friends in the garage, like Denny Pralguski, Ken Richmond, Farren Elwood, Albert Goranson, and so many more over the years. If you needed an engine replaced, frame straightened, radiator replaced, or whatever the car needed, Chet’s garage was the place to be.
Chet never forgot his love for the rock quarry. After losing an opportunity years earlier from the untimely passing of his friend and mentor Curly Ohline, in the late 1980’s he was able to purchase a rock quarry just north of Lyons. Spectacular views and plentiful red flagstone became a rekindled passion. As the years would go on, time in the garage would become less, time at the quarry would become more and more. His ideal day off would be getting coffee in the morning with friends, going to the quarry, moving stones around on his SkidSteer, then come home to a family gathering with steak off the grill and plenty of food.
But less time in the garage didn’t mean less involvement with the community. Chet lost his job in the early 1980’s with Hutchinson after a workplace accident. He was doing so much construction side work on the evenings and weekends that he decided to do that full time. There were some lean years but he never gave up. He would depend greatly on Sharel to keep things going at home. As time went on, there is hardly a home in Lyons, Allenspark, or Raymond that wasn’t touched by Chet in a small or big way.
In the end that was perhaps Chet’s greatest legacy. He was always generous with his time and talents, more concerned with helping people than getting ahead. So, the next time you sit down with a cup of coffee, enjoy it. Then think about how you can help someone today. Then go do it.
Thanks, Dad. We will all miss you. Randy Barnard Sherri Gerhardt
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.howemortuary.com for the Barnard family.