Rear Admiral Chester Nimitz, Jr. (USN)

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Chester William Nimitz, Jr.

Also Known As: "Chet"
Birthdate: (86)
Birthplace: Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, United States
Death: January 2, 2002 (86)
Needham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States (suicide)
Immediate Family:

Son of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz (USN) and Catherine Vance Nimitz
Husband of Joan Leona Nimitz
Brother of Catherine Vance Lay; Anna (Nancy) Nimitz and Mary Manson Nimitz

Managed by: Private User
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About Rear Admiral Chester Nimitz, Jr. (USN)

Chester William "Chet" Nimitz, Jr. (17 February 1915-2 January 2002) was an American officer and submarine commander in the United States Navy (during World War II and the Korean War) and businessman. He distinguished himself on a number of occasions and was three times awarded the Silver Star for valor. He was the son of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.

Early life

Nimitz was born to Chester William, Sr., and Catherine Vance (née Freeman) Nimitz at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, while the couple, with their daughter Catherine Vance "Kate" (born the year before), lived at 415 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, and Nimitz, Sr., was working on the USS Maumee at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

He attended the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, graduating with the class of 1936.

Nimitz married Joan Leona Labern at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard on 18 June 1938. She was born in León, Nicaragua in 1912 to British parents, William Oscar Stonewall and Frances Mary (née Wells) Labern. With her parents she returned to England at the outbreak of World War I in 1914, and was raised in England. Joan came to the United States in 1938 to study dentistry at the University of California Dental School in San Francisco, and met Chester at a cocktail party at Mare Island. She would make news in 1944 when she failed her test to become a United States citizen, two days later she did become a citizen of the U.S.

The couple would have three daughters, Frances Mary, Elizabeth Joan, and Sarah Catherine.


Commanded the USN Submarine USS Sturgeon during the Battle of Pearl Harbor

Commanded the USN Submarine USS Haddo and inflicted 14,756 tons of shipping damage to the Imperial Japanese Navy during the period of August 22, 1944-September 21, 1944

Later life

Chester Nimitz Jr. retired from the Navy as Rear Admiral in 1957. He joined Texas Instruments, and spent four years there. He later joined Perkin-Elmer Corporation, a manufacturer of scientific instruments based in Norwalk, Connecticut. He became president, chief-executive-officer (CEO) and a director in 1965, and was elected Chairman of the Board in 1969, serving until retirement in 1980.

He was an Honorary Trustee and Honorary Member of the Corporation of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.


The health of Chester and his wife, Joan, had deteriorated in later years. Joan was blind, and Chester had lost 30 pounds due to a prolonged stomach disorder. He was also suffering from congestive heart failure.

On 2 January 2002, Chester Nimitz Jr. committed suicide with his wife Joan by ingesting a quantity of sleeping pills in their home at a retirement residence in Needham, Massachusetts. He left a note stating:

Our decision was made over a considerable period of time and was not carried out in acute desperation. Nor is it the expression of a mental illness. We have consciously, rationally, deliberately and of our own free will taken measures to end our lives today because of the physical limitations on our quality of life placed upon us by age, failing vision, osteoporosis, back and painful orthopedic problems.

Chester and Joan are buried at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.


Navy Cross

Silver Star with two gold stars

Bronze Star

Navy Unit Commendation - USS Haddo (7th War Patrol)


Rear Admiral, US Navy and later, Chairman of the Board of Perkin-Elmer Corporation. His military awards include the Navy Cross, three Silver Stars, and the Bronze Star. Son of famous Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, he was born in Brooklyn, New York and graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1936. The only son of the Commander of the US Pacific Fleet during World War II. He made a name for himself in the US Navy during World War II and during the Korean War.

Stationed on the submarine USS Sturgeon when Pearl Harbor was attacked, he later became the Executive Officer of the submarine USS Bluefish. He earned the Navy Cross, three Silver Stars (for valor) and a Bronze Star, retiring from the US Navy in 1957.

From 1957 to 1961, he worked for Texas Instruments, then joined Perkin-Elmer Corporation, as general manager of their instrument division. In 1969, he was elected Chairman of the Board of Perkin-Elmer Corporation, finally retiring in 1980. He also served as director of Edo Corporation, the US Trust Company of New York, and the Atlantic Mutual Insurance Companies, and was a trustee of St. Lawrence University. He was also a Trustee and honorary member of the Corporation of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

He and his wife, Joan Labern Nimitz, had three daughters: Frances, Elizabeth and Sarah. In failing health in his final years, he and his wife of 63 years took their own lives in an apparent suicide pact. (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson)

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Rear Admiral Chester Nimitz, Jr. (USN)'s Timeline

February 17, 1915
Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, United States
January 2, 2002
Age 86
Needham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States