Terry Nelson Chesnut

DECATUR, Ala. — Terry Nelson Chesnut, 74, died on Dec. 28 in Decatur, Alabama. 

Terry was born to Carl and Bertha (Friedly) Chesnut on July 8, 1948, and lived the majority of his life in the Rockford area. He graduated from Stillman Valley High School in 1966, and then attended Northern Illinois University for several semesters before a brief stint in the U.S. Navy, during which time he spent several months in the San Francisco area. He completed his education later in life remotely through Liberty University. 

Terry was married to Patricia Lawson (now Garrison) from 1971-1979. The couple had three children: Jo, Keith, and Molly. He married Susan Snow in 1980. Together, he and Susan raised one son, Matthew, and one granddaughter, Christina “Mary”, for the majority of her young life. 

For several years, Terry worked as a machinist at Rockford Products, then at Specialty Screw. He also spent many years as a truck driver both as an independent contractor with son Matthew at Chesnut and Son, and at Upstaging, Inc., where he enjoyed traveling around the United States. During that time on the road, he developed a strong affection for the American South. He eventually retired to northern Alabama with his devoted girlfriend of 10 years, Stephanie. Though their time together in Alabama was too brief, he loved it there. 

Terry enjoyed watching the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Blackhawks, and arguing endlessly with his mother in favor of the White Sox versus the Cubs. He enjoyed tending his sizable backyard garden over the years, and he often found strength, peace, and solace in the Catholic church. He was a history buff, an avid reader, and an amateur woodworker. He loved ice cream, Celtic music, and corny jokes. He loved learning about the Civil War, World War II, his personal ancestry, Irish poets and the successes of his children and grandchildren, among many other things. 

The family is exceptionally grateful for the selflessness and compassion of Stephanie when Terry’s health began to fail so rapidly. She was by his side every day until the very end, comforting him, caring for him, advocating for him, and making sure he knew that he was loved.  

He is preceded in death by his father, Carl, and his wife of 30 years, Susan. He is survived by his girlfriend, Stephanie Barber, of Hartselle, Alabama; his mother, Bertha Chesnut of Davis Junction; his four children, Jo (Larry “Ben”) Bittinger of Polo, Keith (Katie) Chesnut of Polo, Molly Sides of Rockford and Matthew Chesnut of Rockford; sister, Denise Falk of Roscoe; grandchildren, Hayden and Garrett Bittinger, Cole and Knox Chesnut, Raine and Ila Sides, and Christina “Mary” and Nicholas Chesnut; nieces, Carolyn (Lawrence) Pairitz of Castle Rock, Colorado and Heidi (Chris) Williamson of Madison, Wisconsin; several great nieces and nephews; many extended family members; and lifelong friend, Keith Grennan.

A graveside service for interment of ashes will be planned in the spring.


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