Mr. Leo Chester ‘57
In 1950, Benedict College coaches Reuben Turner and George Sheats struck football gold when they signed Leo Chester, a 6-1, 190-pound end who was being heavily recruited by Florida A&M University.
Chester would become one of several outstanding players from the Peach State whose extraordinary feats on the gridiron helped the Tigers become a powerhouse team in the Southern Intercollegiate Conference from the early Fifties to the mid-Sixties.
Leo’s tremendous work ethic earned him respect as an outstanding receiver on offense and feared run-stopper on defense. Drafted into the U.S. Army following his freshman year, he was able to continue playing football with the Sixth Regiment Combat Team while serving two years in Germany.
When Chester returned to Benedict in 1953, he was bigger and meaner and found new mentors in Coach John E. Brown and Coach John A. Brown. His teammates then included some notable BC players: All-SIAC halfback Leroy Huff, quarterback Varlee Goolsby, end Jerome Smith, tackle Charles Boone, and guard Wilson Walker.
Leo had the size and strength to play physically on offense and defense. When the Tigers had the ball, he was a tremendous blocker and reliable target for catching short passes. When the ball was on the other side, he became a pass rushing demon-fast enough to run around most opposing linemen, yet strong enough to bull his way inside to make tackles. He had a wide repertoire of moves that he used to give opposing blockers fits. He emerged as a team leader in tackles and sacks, and was selected captain of the 1955 squad. That year the Benedict’s Student Government Association awarded him a trophy as the Outstanding Athlete.
After graduating in with a B.S. degree in science, Chester landed a prestigious position with the U.S. Public Health Service in Atlanta, GA where he worked 40 years developing laboratory tests to identify such viruses as West Nile Flu. He also spent some time on loan to the U.S. Civil Service Commission, assisting in voter registration programs. In 1991, he retired from federal government service.
Leo Chester is a life member of the Benedict College National Alumni Association and member of Benedict College National Booster Club. He resides in Lilburn, GA and spends his leisure time playing golf.