Funeral mass will be at St. Juliana Church
1316 N Acacia Ave, Fullerton, CA 92831
at Riverside National Cemetery
22495 Van Buren Blvd
Riverside, CA 92518
Sowinski, Chester P., age 97, died at Brookdale Assisted Living Facility in Yorba Linda,
CA on October 25, 2017.
Born on April 28, 1920, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Chester graduated from
Pulaski High school in 1938 where he studied mechanical design and began working as
a draftsman at Rex Chain Belt in Milwaukee. In 1942, he enlisted in the Army Air Corp,
and completed pilot training which he considered the best achievement of his life. He
graduated as a 2 nd Lieutenant and was rated as a B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber Pilot. In
1942-43, Chester flew B-17 aircraft in Debden, England in World War II as part of the 4 th
Fighter Group in the 336 Eagle Squadron, and received his silver wings in November
1944. His favorite assignment was an Airplane Ferry Group, and following that, he flew
with the Air National Guard and retired from the reserves as a Major in 1964.
He married Stella Kuzma on Nov. 18, 1942, after growing up with her in the same
neighborhood. They had two children, Suzanne (1946) and Chester Jr. (1949). While in
the reserves, Chester was a foreman at Chain Belt in Milwaukee and in 1955, he was
transferred to Los Angeles as the manufacturing Superintendent of a new plant. In
1972, he left the LA plant and moved back to Milwaukee as Vice President of
Manufacturing at Oven Systems, Inc. Chester and his wife moved back to California in
1974, and he began working at Thompson Pump in Gardena as a Manufacturing
Supervisor. He worked for the City of Fullerton for a short time before going back to
Rexnord as a Superintendent in May 1976.
Chester loved to travel, and he and Stella would take trips at least twice a year.
Chester had his own airplane at Fullerton Airport and was part of the “Fullerton Airport
Bums”. He flew his plane weekly and always said the best place in the world was in the
Chester retired in 1982 and took care of his wife until she died in 2011. In his
later years, he enjoyed socializing and volunteering at the Brea Senior Center and was
extremely independent. He flew a plane at Fullerton Airport on his 95 th birthday and was
a participant in the Honor Flight to Washington DC. He was interviewed several times
and was featured in the OC Register, Fullerton Tribune, and will be a part of the
upcoming book about WWII veterans, “Pictures for Heroes”. He drove up until his 96 th
birthday. Chester will always be remembered for saying, “Remember who your friends
are,” for his great love of flying, and keeping busy up until his final days.
Chester is survived by his daughter, Suzanne Richey; daughter-in- law, Joan
Sowinski; and granddaughters, Jennifer Richey, Karin Laufer, Sara Exler (Ron), and
Katie Sowinski. Chester was preceded in death by his wife, Stella; son, Chester Jr; son-
in-law, Robert Richey; and 6 siblings.
Funeral mass will be at St. Juliana Church on Tuesday, 11/7 at 10am
immediately followed by a lunch in the gym. Burial will be on Thursday, 11/9 at 10:30am
at Riverside National Cemetery (staging area 7/shelter G) with full military honors and a
flyover. All are welcome to attend. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name
to Honor Flight Southland, P.O. Box 80256, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688 or
Pictures for Heroes at https://www.gofundme.com/picturesforheroes.