Dr. Chester Mahlon Wigton (Chet) passed away peacefully on March 8, 2022 with his wife, Anita & daughter, Robin by his side while vacationing in Scottsdale, AZ.
Dr. Wigton was born on January 12, 1928 in Pueblo, Colorado to Washington Irving & Bessie Wigton. He was the youngest of 5 children. Chester’s father was a loan & real estate developer where his mother was his secretary. His childhood & high school years were spent with his Norwegian grandmother, playing table tennis, learning to box with his eldest brother, swimming at the YMCA, hitchhiking to his family’s cabin in Beulah,CO, running track, playing football, making the Varsity team in basketball as a freshman -- & being ornery.
Chester was set up on a blind date with Marjorie Chanak of a rival high school during his junior year. They began dating & he gave her his class ring his senior year. Upon graduating high school with honors, Marge & Chester both moved to Boulder to attend the University of Colorado. He pledged Sigma Nu & played basketball. Shortly after starting college, Chester’s mother died, so he transferred to Colorado College to be closer to his dad to help with the business & caretaking. Chester graduated Cum Laude & applied to medical school. He was admitted to the University of Colorado Medical School in Denver. Chester’s father passed away during the Christmas holiday his sophomore year of medical school. During his time at medical school, he also took business law classes as electives & upon graduation, one of his business professors proclaimed, “Are you sure you want to go into medicine?” because there were already offers for him in the business world. To which Chester responded, “No, but my brother is a doctor & it is my destiny.” Chester finally proposed to Marge after going together for 9 years & were married in Pueblo, CO at an Orthodox Church prior to his senior year of med school.
After graduating from medical school he applied for his internship & was accepted at one of the best cancer centers in the country, The Swedish Hospital in Seattle, WA. Chester was interested in radiology & spent many sleepless hours at the hospital, the schedule was 36 hours on, 12 hours off.
Marge & Chet’s first child was born while they were in Seattle, WA. Upon completion of his medical internship they came back to Pueblo to give birth to their second daughter, before Chester was commissioned by the US Coast Guard to join the U.S. Public Health Service, Indian Health Division, a quasi-military unit. He served many of the outlying Pueblos & Reservations in the Albuquerque area: Jemez, Zia, Santa Ana, Sandia, Isleta, Laguna, Acoma, Mescalero Apache, Canocito & Alamo. Chester always respected the Native people & grew to love & admire their culture, traditions & art. Chester continued to receive invitations to special ceremonies even after retiring.
After his service, while waiting on a office in Durango he scrubbed in at the Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, NM & also was a doctor for pack trips in the Wind River Wilderness of WY, as well as, operating in the Community Hospital in Durango -- now the Gable House B&B. Chester went on to open his private family practice in Durango in 1957 serving his community & delivering hundreds of babies for over 50 years. He loved running into patients who would affectionately call him “Doc”, & he would do his best to remember their names.
Chet & Marge completed their large family with four boys Kent, Lance, Bruce & Scott, following daughters Robin & Renee. Chester was widowed in 1981.
Chester had many hobbies & loved Alpine & Nordic skiing, tennis, golf, hiking, fishing, hunting, boating, swimming & traveling. He prided himself on his excellent springboard “swan” diving skills. His happy places were the island of Hawaii, & his cabin at Electra Lake. He was also a “connoisseur” of all things sweet, but especially ice cream.
One of Chet’s great joys was joining his friends every weekday morning at the Strater Hotel for “Coffee Club”, which led him to meet Anita Nelson, who was the Sales & Catering Director of the hotel. Chet & Anita enjoyed a courtship, & were married in 1993 on the pro’s tee at Tamarron Resort surrounded by family. Chet extended his fatherly love to Anita’s two daughters, Sallie & Sadie, & his list of kids grew to eight.
Chester’s love for his community & outdoors extended into his loyal service on Tamarron’s Owners Board, Electra Lake Sporting Club’s Board, Evening Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Durango 9R School Board, Director of Bloomfield’s Nursing Home. He started the Veterans Medical Clinic in Durango, had patients at Four Corners Health Care Center, & was a doctor for the Southern Ute tribe for 25 years. He was on the local committee to start & develop Purgatory Ski Area, & was instrumental in getting the tailings pile removed in Durango.
He is survived by his wife, Anita of 28 years, children Robin Nichols (Steve), Renee Holgate (Joe), Kent Wigton (Becky), Lance Wigton, Bruce Wigton & Scott Wigton (Susan), Sallie Kautter (Justin) & Sadie Baumgart (Joseph), 18 grandchildren, 9 great grandchildren & his Father-In-Law, LaVern Nelson.
Dr. Chester Wigton was a leader among leaders & a gentleman. He had a humble heart & a generous spirit. His vibrant blue eyes, smile, wit & sense of humor along with his love for family, community, his patients, the outdoors & his friends are unmeasured. He is forever loved & will be greatly missed by all, including his faithful rescue dog, Sweet Raisin.
A private service for immediate family will be held on March 19th. Plans for a celebration of life, forthcoming.
Donations can be made to Mercy Hospital Foundation, towards Flight for Life &/or Emergency Preparedness -- 1010 Three Springs Blvd, Suite 248 Durango, CO 81301.