Chester Robert "Chet" Tukey

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  • "Doreen, CB was so glad to see you the other day, but so sad..."
    - Melissa Currier
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    - Tommi Barnett
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    - Bunny Frazier-Brier
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Chester Robert Tukey
1936 - 2017
EXETER, N.H. - After more than 80 years of making legions of people smile broadly and laugh out loud, Chester Robert Tukey of Exeter, N.H., died peacefully Friday, April 28, 2017, in the arms of his longtime life partner, Doreen Currier.
Born to Clifford and Doris Tukey in Porter, Maine, Chet's young life revolved around daily comings and goings of his parents' eponymous mercantile, Tukey's General Store. Situated at the intersections of Routes 135 and 27 next to the post office in Belgrade, Maine, the store provided the first stage for Chet's uniquely affable personality.
"I've heard so many stories about how the store was the center of the town's universe," said his daughter, Lynn Bauchinger of South Portland. "That's where Dad learned his social skills, the wheeling and dealing and customer service, and that there was nothing that couldn't be fixed. His love and zest for life was all fostered right there."
His sister, Marion Hanrahan Tukey, who predeceased him by nearly 10 years, often shared stories of her brother charming his way from behind the cash register to steal away with their grandfather, Jim, to pursue his lifelong passions of fishing and hunting in and around the Belgrade Lakes region.
"Being around Dad was magic as a boy," said his adopted son, Paul Tukey, of Falmouth, who now resides in Potomac, Md. "Everyone loved him; he was always the life of the party, but he also loved camping and the quiet of the lake. He had a tremendous respect for nature and all of its joys; he's the guy who taught me how to fish, how to throw a ball, how to maneuver a chainsaw and especially how to work - all the practical, frugal life skills. He would also do anything for anyone on a moment's notice, especially his children, and I'll never ever forget that."
All those varied skills served him well after graduating with an electrician's certificate from Maine Vocational Technical Institute in South Portland. For many years Chet owned and operated Tukey's New & Used Auto Parts in Waterville, where he met his best lifelong friend, Roger Hodgdon. In the 1970s he joined the Bankers Life & Casualty company in Portland, becoming a nationally ranked insurance agent. Other careers included long stints at Crest Glass in South Portland, the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant and then with his son's company, Tukey's Home 'n Land of Falmouth.
"The word that most comes to mind about Chet is 'generous,'" said his friend and former insurance colleague, Terry Landry, of Kingfield. "He gave his time to help all of us. If someone needed a buck to two, he would let them close a policy he had written . . . even if he could have used the money himself. One other thing: He was always looking for a deal and he often found one. He was happy as heck if he could pick something up, spruce it up, and sell it for a profit."
Never idle in the final years of his life in New Hampshire where he found great comfort with Doreen and her family, Chet remained busy as a handyman and school bus driver. With an ever-present twinkle in his eye, he retained his sense of humor until his final hours.
"He just lit up the room the minute he walked in," said Doreen, echoing the sentiments of so many. "Nobody ever had a bigger heart."
Chet is survived by his daughters Lynn and her husband Wolfgang and Jill Tukey O'Brien of Portland, as well as his adopted sons Paul Tukey and his wife Katie, Randy Tukey Boardway and his wife Lynn, of Westbrook, and a step-son Tim Tukey of Florida. He also counted Doreen's children, Michael Smith of Greenland, N.H., Kenneth Currier of Exeter, N.H., and Lisa Currier of Pompano, Fla., as his own. He leaves 10 grandchildren and a great grandson.
A burial service will be held at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Belgrade at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7.

Published in Central Maine on May 4, 2017