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Chet Chiles, age 81, of Boerne, TX, died Saturday, November 15, 2003, in San Antonio. He was a member of the First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Antonio. He was an intellectual person who enjoyed academic pursuits throughout his life. He also loved to travel. Survivors are children, Eric Chiles of Austin, TX; John Chiles, Barbara Haynes and husband Randy, grandchildren, Sarah and Stephen, all of Bryan, TX; and sister, Maxine Allen of Salem, OR. Barbara is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work.
Chester “Chet” Chiles was a child of the Great Depression having been born to a farm family that struggled in efforts on two different farms, one in ranching and one with an apple orchard in rural eastern Oregon, until moving to Salem, Oregon, where Chet finished high school in 1940. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and spent five years in military service. At separation from the service in 1945, he returned home to Salem and entered Willamette College, graduating in 1949 with a degree in sociology. After graduation, he was employed by the county public welfare agency in Portland, and a year later, he was given a leave to enter the social work program at the University of Denver. Upon earning an M.S.W., he returned to Oregon and was assigned as a child welfare worker in a rural county near the California border. Finding as Chet said, “my mother did not raise me to be a child welfare worker,” he joined the California Department of Mental Hygiene in 1954. While in that job, Chet took two courses at the University of Washington from Dr. Clarence Schrag and Dr. Norman Haynor that shaped his professional interest toward criminal justice. Both Schrag and Haynor were staff members in the State of Washington’s criminal justice department, and they offered Chet jobs to work there. Rather than take those jobs, Chet enrolled in a joint program in sociology and social welfare at Florida State University where he secured a Ph.D. in criminology and corrections. Upon completion of the course work and admission to candidacy, he joined the faculty at Mankato State College in 1960, and then he moved to the University of Arizona as an assistant professor in 1961. He finished the dissertation and degree in 1963 and moved to Indiana State University as an associate professor in 1965. While at Indiana State he established degree programs in criminology at the bachelor’s and master’s level and secured funding from the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration to create a plan for in-service training for the Indiana Department of Corrections. Chet said, “I found my home” in 1968 when he joined the faculty of The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work. He taught courses in the areas of sociology, social casework, social group work, correctional administration, administrative processes in interpersonal practices, correctional treatment, and psychopathology. He received grant funding from the Hogg Foundation, the Departments of Health, Education and Welfare, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
Chet provided a regular presence in developing courses and field experiences that dealt with the criminal justice system and advised students interested in public welfare and criminal justice. Chet took his teaching and committee responsibilities seriously and rarely missed a faculty meeting. He was spare in his commentary, rarely engaging in small chatter, but incisive in his remarks. One of us noted that Chet was a friend but never friendly and someone that many never really got to know well. However, he could always be counted on to be frank and straightforward about any issue relating to curriculum development, his classes, or matters of professional discourse. Though never one to suffer fools gladly, he was fondly remembered by his students.
Chet retired as an associate professor from the University in 1987 and enjoyed many years returning to Oregon and pursuing his passion for fishing. He was awarded an emeritus associate professor rank in 1989. We remember Chet as a distinctive and proud individualist and are saddened by his passing.
Larry R. Faulkner, President
The University of Texas at Austin
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty
This memorial resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Professors Michael Lauderdale (chair), George Herbert, and Guy Shuttlesworth.