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Travelin' Man

Sun Advocate reporter

Ted and LaRay smile during Ted's semi-retirement party in Elko, Nev. in 2001. The couple will be married for 54 years this October. They reside in East Carbon just down the street from their daughter, Tammy with their dog Buffy.

Ted Chidester, "Tobe" to his friends and family, of East Carbon is one of the hardest working 71 year old men around. After briefly retiring in 2001 from a hard working life at the young age of 65 Chidester heard the road calling him and within a couple years he was back in a truck for his life long friend Kerwin Jensen. The road and the work that it brings is something Chidester has never shied away from while raising a family here in Castle Country. His story is one of family and the road traveled.

Chidester was born to William Parker and Margaret Chidester in Lehi, on Aug. 2 1935. His family moved to Huntington in 1947 where his father had been hired as the superintendent at the Deer Creek mine. "We lived right there at the mine for three years," said Chidester. His family would experience some tragedy before he was born. Ted's parents had lost two girls in their youth, one to pneumonia and one to appendicitis.

Chidester gets ready to award the tug of war trophy at KENROC's annual contest. He is pictured here with local sculptor Gary Prazen.

"There wasn't a lot they could do for serious illness in those days," said Chidester.

His family lived in Emery County through his high school days, Ted attended North Emery High School until 1952, when he married his high school sweetheart and went to work. Chidester married LaRay Johnson in 1953 and they will be married for 54 years this October. The two have five children, Betty Jo, Teddy, Teri, Tammie and Debbie. The pair have 16 grandchildren and 17 great- grandchildren.

Ted went to work for Boils Brothers Drilling Company out of Salt Lake from 1953 until 1959. This job would set him up for a life that would be lived on the road. Boils worked all over the western United States and because of that so did Ted. In '59 Chidester moved on to the uranium mines to do core drilling in the western states, a job that would also require a good deal of traveling.

Chidester gets the family together for a group photo. Pictured here in 1966 at the Cox family reunion in Fairview are his wife, LaRay Chidester, her parents Fern and Eldred Johnson and their children, Betty Jo, Teri, Tammy, Teddy and Debbie. Ted and LaRay also have 16 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

"We moved 13 times in one year," said Ted's wife, LaRay. In 1964 the family moved to Salt Lake City where Ted took a job as a construction worker for Hornzwick Construction Company.

In 1969 Chidester moved back to Huntington taking a job as the underground belt supervisor for American Coal until he got his true calling by going to work for KENROC drilling in 1977.

"Once the kids got into school we felt like we had to quit moving so much no matter how we loved it, we owed them a steady home," commented LaRay. "We really liked all the moving around, there was a lot of gypsying with me and the little lady but we had to settle down sometime," continued Ted.

The family had become more stationary but Ted did not. He worked for KENROC until 1993 as the western sales rep servicing 11 regional states. "Being on the road is in my blood," said Chidester.

Ted and LaRay show their good side in front of their new pickup in 1958 with their dog Tinkerbell.

After going back to work driving in 2004 Ted would face the biggest battle of his life, that battle would come in the form of colon cancer. The disease, discovered in 2005 put Ted and his family through three surgeries and six months of chemotherapy. At one point he thought he had beaten the disease only to have it resurface in the form of kidney tumors. The tumors were discovered during a routine check up and when the doctors discovered his blood count had gone way up he was rushed across the street to the surgical center in Provo for emergency surgery. After six weeks of intensive radiation treatment Chidester had finally conquered the disease that had put him through shingles and 43 pounds of weight loss. According to him it was the most difficult time of his life. He keeps a good sense of humor about the whole thing though, telling me that as far as his wife knows "he is still under constant physician supervision."

The fight with cancer has spurred his family into action in the battle against the disease. A group of his children recently went to Wyoming to participate in their Relay for Life. "The kids plan to participate down here as well," said Chidester. "They asked me to speak during Price's relay but I'm really not much of a speaking man," he continued.

Ted and LaRay try to decide which way to go during a camping trip in Wyoming. The two love their motor-home and all outdoor recreation.

No, Ted is more a man of action. When he beat the cancer he told his family he was going back to work they told him he was crazy. But he felt he had been given a second chance at life wasn't going to waste it sitting in his house. "I would drive my wife crazy if she had to listen to and put up with me all day," laughed the newly employed man. Chidester purchased a new truck and at 71 went back to driving for Jensen Trucking 12 hours a day.

Ted still loves the road and he and LaRay spend their leisure time touring around in their 43 foot Challenger motor home. "He is a special man, stated his granddaughter Kami Christiansen. "His work ethic and zest for life is something that inspires everyone around him. Because of everywhere he's been he always has a story to tell, and if you listen to him you will learn something every time," she concluded.

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