Chester Patterson ’43

In 1939, Chester Patterson ’43, an avid Boy Scout, imagined that Phillips Exeter Academy could be his ticket out of New York City. (Little did he know he would end up in Costa Rica.)

"I owe most of what I have accomplished to Exeter," says Chester, who believes his success in business stems from a combination of the imagination and curiosity he was allowed to indulge at the Academy, and the diligence he honed there by necessity. Only months after graduating from Exeter, Chester was one of more than 50 Exonians at the Boston Army Induction Center. "It looked like a class reunion," he says. During the war, his contact with fellow alumni was limited, but Chester always appreciated the chance to commiserate about the life of an infantryman with others who shared the Exeter experience.

Chester toured as a private in France, Germany, Austria and the Philippines, where he and a fellow soldier managed to open a ladies’ specialty dress shop. In 1946, he returned to MIT to finish his engineering degree, but continued to serve as a buyer for the store, biking around Boston to buy dresses that would satisfy the war-starved fashion appetites of wealthy Filipino women and military wives. Thus was his interest in business awakened. In 1949, Chester was finishing a senior thesis on hydroelectric plants at MIT while also fine-tuning the manufacturing process for the world’s first fiberglass rowing shell, an innovation born of a boat-demolishing squall that had hit Chester’s crew team one day.

But Chester soon realized that his capital for this and other manufacturing interests would not go far in the United States. Not long afterward, during a visit to his mother’s native Costa Rica, he saw an opportunity to pursue his dream of being self-employed. Since 1951, Chester has been just that, having built and managed, amid a turbulent economy, a diverse family of companies including plastics, industrial machinery distribution, metal window manufacturing, petroleum equipment and a tree farm and sawmill. "I have had a lot of fun in the process," says Chester, "but I have also had to face a lot of uncertainty and anguish." These have been offset by the pleasure of seeing a son and a grandson attend the Academy, and the thrill of building a 46-foot cruising ketch and racing a Newport 30 sailboat. In recognition of the role Exeter has played in his life, Chester recently established a single life gift annuity that will provide him with the certainty of a fixed income for the remainder of his life, and culminate in a generous gift to the Exeter endowment, a gift most welcome in uncertain times.

In these economic times, a gift annuity can convert a low-income-producing, long term-held security into a dependable source of significantly more income. For example: A gift annuity of $50,000 for a person 70 years old will generate an annual income of $3,350, approximately two-thirds of which is tax free, and a charitable deduction of $15,469.