You think you would do anything for a bargain? Sylvia Chester likely had you beat.

Consider that her children took Mrs. Chester on vacation to Las Vegas a few years ago. They were all excited to be in Sin City, taking in the lights and the action and the people. Not so much Mrs. Chester. As the family toured the town one night, she spotted a Dollar Tree store and forced her son-in-law Kenneth Brooks to pull over so she could check out the deals inside.

“When she saw that store — it was her favorite — she just about lost her mind,” her daughter Carlette Brooks said. “She was always on the lookout for a bargain.”

Said Kenneth Brooks, “I was well-trained.”

Perhaps the only thing she liked as much as bargain shopping was cooking and spending time with her family.

“During the holidays, she wanted her family around her,” Carlette said. “She loved company. She loved people.”

Mrs. Chester, 84, died Wednesday, April 1, at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby Borough of complications due to COVID-19. She would have celebrated her birthday on June 10.

Mrs. Chester was a bartender who eventually became the bar manager.
Courtesy of the family
Mrs. Chester was a bartender who eventually became the bar manager.

As for cooking, Mrs. Chester combined her zest for food and shopping, and the rest of the family benefited. Mrs. Chester would not pass up any deals at the grocery store, so she had to have a second freezer to store all the extra food she bought.

And when family and friends came to visit, Mrs. Chester would give away frozen meat and other food to free up room in the freezer for more bargain buys.

“If you came to her house, you were going to eat,” Carlette said. “I remember meals she made where she served four kinds of meat. You never left her house hungry.”

Mrs. Chester (left), with daughters Carlette (center) and Deborah, loved to shop for bargains. Dollar Tree was one of her favorite stores.
gmiles1957@gmail.com
Mrs. Chester (left), with daughters Carlette (center) and Deborah, loved to shop for bargains. Dollar Tree was one of her favorite stores.

Born in West Philadelphia near 42nd and Holly Streets, Mrs. Chester spent most of her life in West and South Philadelphia. She had six daughters and one son, and was a bartender who graduated to bar manager. She loved to play pinochle.

In addition to her daughter and son-in-law, Mrs. Chester is survived by daughters Deborah, Jacqueline, Theresa, Melinda, and Christine; son Derrick, and other relatives. She was predeceased by husbands Marcus Chester and Carl Melton.

Gary Miles, gmiles@inquirer.com