Retired Memphis fire director gets his degree - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Posted by: Alisa Nave, 5/3/04, 10:00pm

Retired Memphis fire director gets his degree

By: Donna Davis

It was a dream, 35 years in the making. On Saturday, former Memphis fire director Chester Anderson got his bachelor's degree from the University of Memphis . It began in 1969. Anderson was in the navy, and wanted to be an officer, but was told he needed a college degree. He went on to raise a family and begin a career with the Memphis fire department. However, Chester Anderson never let go of his goal of completing his education. "So it started in 1994, and people would ask me four years later, five years later, when you graduating??? Until it got to the point where they stopped asking me.” Ultimately it took ten years. He saw college deans come and go. Anderson told his advisor he'd take whatever classes he could manage; even if it was only one or two a semester. "She said you're never gonna finish, and I said, we'll i'm in no hurry." In 2000, Anderson reached the pinnacle of his career. He was promoted to the challenging job of fire director. He led the department through tough times. This includes a shooting that claimed the lives of two firefighters in 2000; and an arson fire that killed two of his men in 2003. "And also people would ask me, why are you still going to school, when you're already the director what else do you want? But it wasn't about being a director, or getting some position, or doing a resume or anything like that. It was something that I wanted to do personally." Now, four months into his retirement and with his degree firmly in hand, any plans to slow down? "Oh, you’re never too old. I'm thinking about embarking on something else."

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