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Chester's Story

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DERRY, NH: Chester R. “Chet” Ham, 85, of Derry, died Sunday January 10, 2016, at the Villa Crest Nursing Home in Manchester, N.H. Chet was born in Wakefield, Mass., on July 13, 1930, a son of the late Clifford C. and Esther M. (Davenport) Ham.

Chet began his education at Wakefield High School in Massachusetts and received further education at the Governor’s Academy in Byfield, Mass., a Bachelor of Arts from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and then a Bachelor of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, Mass.

Chet met and married his wife, Marilyn, of 58 years while serving as a youth minister finishing up his Divinity degree. The newlyweds then moved out of New England when he received his first parish assignment in Columbia, South Dakota where they had their first children, Peter and David. From that assignment, the family then moved to Iowa where he served as pastor in two different communities (Blairsburg and Allison). During this time they had their third child, Cynthia. After serving in Iowa, the family moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where Chet worked as a life and accident insurance broker for the Presbyterian Ministers Insurance Fund.

Chet and his family moved back to New England in 1969 where they settled in Londonderry, N.H. During this time, Chet became a Real Estate broker as well as working for the U.S. Postal Service as a rural mail carrier for 17 years. Since his move to Londonderry, Chet began to serve the First Parish Church in East Derry, N.H.

While living in Londonderry, Chet also served on many organizations in the town including the Historical Society, Budget Committee, Wage and Salary Committee, School Board, Elder Affairs Committee (founding member and Chairperson), Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, and the Fire Department (volunteer member since 1969 during which time he also served as Chaplain of the Fire Department since 2000).

Over his 60 years of pastoral service, he served 14 congregations beginning in New Hampshire then to South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, and then back to New Hampshire where he had served at First Parish Congregational Church in East Derry.

In all situations and capacities, Chet enjoyed welcoming and meeting others. His warm, inviting smile and genuine concern for others allowed them to feel welcome. Chet’s memorial thoughts to others are “do not grieve by stone, go forward into your life.”

He is survived by his wife, Marilyn (Webster) Ham of Derry; three children, Peter W. Ham and his wife, Carol Sosman of Mansfield, Mass., David A. Ham and his wife, Christine of Merrimack, N.H., and Cynthia A. Strike and her husband, Tom of Londonderry; eight grandchildren, Jeremy and Ethan Ham, Nathaniel, Catherine, Emily, and Meghan Ham, and Joseph and Jeffrey Oriani; one great-granddaughter, Ophelia Evelyn Oriani; two sisters, Dr. Priscilla Alexander of Sacramento, Calif., and Esther Dalrymple of Lansing, Mich.; as well as several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brother, Rev. Dr. Clifford Ham of Pittsburgh, Pa.

Following cremation, calling hours will be held on Saturday, January 23, 2016, from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Peabody Funeral Home and Crematorium, 290 Mammoth Roa, Londonderry. A celebration of Chet’s life will be held on Sunday, January 24, at 1 p.m. at First Parish Church, 47 East Derry Road, E. Derry. Burial will be in the spring in Glenwood Cemetery, Londonderry. To celebrate Chet’s life, in lieu of flowers or other gifts, donations may be made to Londonderry Child Passenger Safety Program, 103 High Range Road, Londonderry, NH 03053 and/or First Parish Congregational Church, 47 East Derry Road, Derry, NH 03038. To send a condolence or for more information, please visit www.peabodyfuneralhome.com.
Published on  January 21, 2016
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