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Dr. Chester Lapeza, III

Dr. Chester Robert "Chet" Lapeza, III

Thursday, January 22nd, 1970 - Monday, July 22nd, 2019
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Obituary

A Life of Authenticity and Service Chester

Starting as early as he could talk, Chet told anyone who would listen that he wanted to be a doctor. His heroes were local – his mother (a busy nurse), Perry Busbee (a family practitioner), Charlie Greer (an ophthalmologist), Bill Pannell (a surgeon) – and they all inspired his career. They also led him to a style of practice that put patients first. He took time to ask and listen. He returned calls. He went to your house when it was necessary.

Chet was born January 22, 1970, at Emory University Hospital and lived most of his life in Cordele. He was gifted with a quest for knowledge and natural curiosity that didn’t stop with the practice of medicine. In modern terms, you would call him a beta tester. He was always first in line to try out the latest technology, and you’d often find him tinkering with an old machine to repair it or get it to do something its manufacturer hadn’t conceived. There wasn’t a proper way to view the stars in Crisp County, so he built an observatory.

After graduating from Crisp County High School in 1988, he earned a scholarship to Emory University and completed a double major in biology and philosophy. While at Emory, he met Amy Elizabeth Gandy, and they were married July 9, 1994, in Cairo. Chet then graduated from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, completed his residency in family practice at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and returned to Cordele to start his practice in 1998.

Chet discovered his extended family through Boy Scouts. He was a youth member of Troop #240, earning the highest rank of Eagle Scout. As a father, he served as Cubmaster for Pack #270 and Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop #270. He passed his love of scouting to his children, Ches and Eli, who both achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. He was a Vigil Honor Recipient in the Order of the Arrow and a member of the Executive Board of the South Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Beyond medicine and scouting, Chet had many other loves in life. Star Trek, German automobiles (Porsches in particular), marching band (tuba), terrible pop music and corny jokes. He loved to laugh and share obscure knowledge – all you had to do was ask. Whether he was driving around town in a sports car he was too tall to fit into or at dinner with his family, he always stopped to share a kind word or inquire about your family.

He adored his mother, Mildred, whom he knew worked tirelessly to support him. He grew more proud each day of his wife and children who were at the center of his life. His trophies were his lifelong friendships.
Chester Robert Lapeza III, M.D., passed away July 22, 2019. He died as he lived – serving others through his passion for medicine and scouting. He was in Glen Jean, West Virginia, working as a volunteer physician at the 2019 World Scout Jamboree.

Chet is survived by his mother, Mildred Culpepper Lapeza, his wife Amy and his children Ches and Eli, all of Cordele and other family members near and far. He was preceded in death by his father, Chester Robert Lapeza Jr. of Blairsville, Georgia, his maternal grandparents, E.H. and Mildred Culpepper of Cordele, Georgia and his paternal grandparents, Chester Robert Lapeza, Sr. and Betsy Webb Lapeza of Jacksonville, Florida.
At the request of Chet’s friends, the Chet Lapeza Children’s Education Fund has been established for the benefit of his childrens’ education at https://tinyurl.com/chetlapeza. Memorials may also be made to the charity of your choice.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Monday, July 29th, 2019 | 12:30pm - 1:30pm
    When
    Monday, July 29th, 2019 12:30pm - 1:30pm
    Location
    Cordele First United Methodist Church
    Address
    302 East 12th Avenue
    CORDELE, GA 31015
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    Monday, July 29th, 2019 | 1:30pm
    When
    Monday, July 29th, 2019 1:30pm
    Location
    Cordele First United Methodist Church
    Address
    302 East 12th Avenue
    CORDELE, GA 31015
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Officiant
    Rev. Larry Rollins
    Co-Celebrant
    Rev. Don Howell
  • Interment

    Location
    Sunnyside Cemetery
    Address
    8th Avenue and Hickory Street
    CORDELE, GA 31015
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    The committal service will be PRIVATE.

Affiliations

  • Boy Scouts of America
  • Medical Doctor

Condolences

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KL

Kim Laird

Posted at 09:13pm
I’m so sad to hear the news of Chet’s passing. My heart goes out to Mildred, Amy, and the boys. May the memory of his love and devotion for others comfort you. You all are in my prayers.
J

Joshua

Posted at 10:47am
Dr. Chet was a great man, he mentored me and most of the boys in Crisp county. He started my love of stars . I am a proud Eagle Scout, Dr Chet was my Cub Scout Leader and later my Boy Scout Leader, I graduated high school in May and told him I was going to play ball in South Carolina he told me to hold my head up cause I was too big not to be noticed. He was funny and he loved us boys. He was hard when he had to be but he loved us and we loved him. Thank you Dr Chet for loving me.
Joshua Smith

Bill Price

Posted at 10:02am
Distance and timing preclude my travel from NC to Cordele for the service, but my thoughts are with Mildred, Amy, Ches, and Eli. Chet’s father was one of my closest friends for about 40 years, essentially a surrogate brother to me. With his all-too-soon passing years ago, I felt a great loss. Chet, Jr. was immensely proud of his son with great justification. I was privileged that Chet III and I developed something of a relationship, and we tried to keep up with each other. He would call periodically with some question or thought, usually car-related, and I frequently thought that these were questions he would have called his Dad to discuss. I was flattered. I kept up with the many accomplishments of the family on Facebook and called to congratulate when appropriate. I had unending respect for Chet. I know this loss is devastating to his family and local friends; I feel that loss as well.

-Bill Price
R

Rachel

Posted at 09:35am
I have known Chet since 3rd grade. Even then, I knew he would do something incredible with his life. He was always the guy you’d ask if you didn’t know the answer to something. No matter how simple the answer, Chet would always explain every detail, in great depth, whether you wanted to hear it all or not. Nine times out of ten, you ended up leaving him with not only the answer you were looking for, but a total understanding of how to arrive at that answer, because Chet was just a natural teacher.
We lost touch a while during our college years, starting families, and all the things young adults do, but as soon as he came back to our area, Dr. Lapeza was my family doctor. He was the type of doctor you could call at any time, and he would give advice and sometimes make a house call just to assuage any fears that my parents or I might’ve had.
Chet has been my doctor for more years than I can count, and every time I went to see him we would take time to catch up on each other’s lives. He was so excited to tell me about his summer adventures with Eli and the Scouting trips he would be talking. He was especially excited about the SCUBA dive he would be participating in. He had worked really hard to lose the weight he needed to in order to be cleared for the dive. Of
course, he crushed that goal, as he did with all of his goals!
Chet lived for his family and the adventures they shared. I guess it was a fitting ending to a beautiful life that he passed doing exactly what he loved. My whole family loved him and will miss him terribly. My love and condolences go out to Mildred, Amy, Ches, and Eli, as well as to his coworkers and patients. He truly touched so many lives wherever he went.

June Fraser

Posted at 11:14pm
Praying for Dr. Lapeza's family. His passing is a great loss for Cordele and Crisp Co. May God give you comfort and peace.
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