Chester W. Allen


A Tribute To A Remarkable Man

By Virgil Opfer

Hundreds of friends and relatives experienced a great personal loss when Chet Allen passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of December 7, 2019. He was 88.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chet’s memorial service, originally planned for early 2020, was postponed until there was the opportunity for social interaction. During that delay, it became apparent that a normal two-hour memorial would not have provided nearly enough time to touch on all of his accomplishments. This website is being launched at this time to celebrate the first anniversary of Chet’s passing.

Chet’s wife, Lynn, and his friends decided that in order to provide a fitting tribute and a more comprehensive summary of Chet’s life, career, and accomplishments, developing this website would be appropriate. Further, it was recognized that this website could be shared with all of his friends, where a celebration of life at a traditional memorial venue would have necessitated limited attendance.

This website has been created to celebrate Chet’s life and you are encouraged to personally participate in its further development. You are invited to post your comments, photos, and anecdotes on the “Memories” page.

Who was Chet Allen? The fact is, Chet Allen was as close to a true Renaissance Man as most of us has have ever known. Many of his talents and interests are featured on this site. In no particular order, Chet was an entrepreneur, award winning real estate exchange broker, enthusiastic hiker, Stanford grad in Economics, book author, magazine article contributor, avid golfer for over 70 years, home builder of hundreds of single family homes, tennis player, experienced home designer, dedicated general contractor, clever business innovator, a US Marine who served in Korea, a light airplane pilot, a sought after seminar teacher, and a world traveler.
What cannot be reduced to writing is his innate talent for making friends.

My name is Virgil Opfer and I had the pleasure of knowing Chet for 40 years as well as being one of Chet’s very close friends over the past 20-plus years. In addition to being buddies, we were also business partners in a wide variety of endeavors.

I first met Chet in December 1980 when he was offering a real estate course called Developing, Syndicating and Big Money Brokerage. My reason for attending was that I had been informed by knowledgeable real estate professionals that this course enjoyed a “Don’t miss the chance” reputation. During the seminar, I soaked up every word and, near the end of the three days, I had the chance to meet Chet. We hit it off right away. Looking back, I now realize that our instant connection was not at all remarkable, because nearly everyone who ever met Chet had the same response. Chet was just very easy to like.

This website has been designed to feature his many talents by including separate pages for narratives and pictures related to his special endeavors. Please visit the individual pages to gather a more fulfilling awareness of his life adventures.

A Message From Lynn Allen

Friends and family, thank you for visiting Chet’s memorial website. Once again, I want to thank you for your messages of condolence and your kind wishes when we lost Chet. They helped lift my spirits. I love you all.

I wanted to say a few words about Chet, so I am sharing a snapshot of our history together.

I met Chet 35 years ago at a CCIM (real estate) Christmas party. He had recently moved to Coronado with his daughter, Tami, who was with him that evening. When I went through the food line, he promptly fell in behind me and started asking me about my hobbies. We had tennis, running and hiking already in common, and after a few months of dating he bought me golf clubs. I learned later he had already been through the food line.

Since we were both dating someone else at the time, it took about a month for us to have our first official date. After that date, he sent me a dozen roses. Also, on that first date, he asked me to tell him three things I hadn’t done and wanted to do. He was a very good listener. One of those things was going to New York, which he made happen a couple of years later.

I soon learned that he was a very determined person. Whenever he set his mind to something, he would go out at it 15 different ways until he could make it happen. That always impressed me about him.

He was one of the most easy going people you could ever meet. My kids were very young when we met, but he jumped in to help form them without stepping on my toes when disciplining them. He did lose his cool with my daughter a couple of times. We had a good laugh about that.

Although it took us 16 years to get married, after the first year we did have a living together ceremony. We stood before our friends and family and said vows making a loving commitment to each other. We didn’t always do things in the most conventional way, but it worked for us.

In the early days of our relationship we didn’t get to travel together as much as we would have liked. I was working full time and he was traveling for his real estate ventures. We did, however, take shorter trips that usually involved playing golf. Once I was retired, I almost always went with him on his travels, and we then went on several major adventures. One of those adventures was our 184-mile hike of the entire length of the Thames River Path in England with two other couples. The story of that hike and our 110-mile journey through parts of England on the famous narrow boats is featured on this website.

When we moved to Sutter Creek, we bought 5 acres and built a home together. When we made it through that experience without killing one another, I knew we could make it through anything. Actually, it was pretty easy because everything just sort of fell into place without any arguing. I pretty much let him design the house, and he let me pick out the cabinets, tile, and the front door. We did something similar for the house we recently built together and it is still my home. We always had an understanding that if something really mattered to someone, that person got their way.

He was always kind, had an impish grin, a twinkle and a wink in his eyes, and he made me feel loved.

I miss him every day, but I try to live my life with happiness, as I know he would want me to.

A Message From Mark Allen

I have enjoyed a unique perspective of a life well lived by my father, Chester Williamson Allen.

My father was 30 years old when I was born and provided all the basic needs of a middle class family.  I never needed anything, I always was well fed, lived in a nice home and went on many family vacations.  The extra gifts given to me by my father were unconditional love, pride, and freedom of choice.  I’m not sure why my father chose to not to give me more guidance, but it was a gift that I learned to choose my own career path and create my own value system in religion, politics, and personal freedoms even if they differed from my fathers.

As a child and young man, I had two role models.  If my Uncle Kenny was John Wayne, my father was Maverick.  Never one to work for anyone, he was his own man.  I think this was a value system he learned from his parents and older siblings.  My father had a deep value system and frequently helped those in need.  My father created deep friendships in business and his personal life that lasted decades.  As he said about my stepmother Lynn, you need to cultivate relationships.  My father planted his relationships deep and watered them regularly.  It was my experience that his business relationships valued my father’s council and many successful real estate transactions were finalized with my father’s creativity and sheer will.  In the 1970’s my father received two career defining awards, “Best Exchange in the USA” and “Best Exchange in California.”  I was told that the California award was more prestigious or difficult to win, a statement I never fully understood.  These were due to his determination, creativity and endless work ethic requiring up to a year for some transactions.

My father was also selfless and selfish.  He would re-watch a movie just so others could experience the same message or feeling he received but could also leave a conversation or situation if he didn’t see a benefit of either.  Both gifts I am still learning to this day.  My father rarely apologized but rather changed his behavior so he would not repeat the same mistake or misstep.

My father was a spiritual person and attended several different places of worship throughout his lifetime.  My father seemed to become more enlightened throughout his life and chose to worship in a place with a good message rather than a particular denomination.  It was my understanding my father believed in a common collective rather that a primary deity. 

My life has followed several paths, just as my father’s, some good and some bad.  I have learned to take risks, trust in faith, and learn from my mistakes.  These were all observed while watching my father navigate good and bad times.

Dad, I miss you every day and I am still trying to live up to your value system and make you proud.