A Life of Authenticity and Service Chester
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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.