Retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Paul Chestnut, 90, of Colorado Springs, Colo., passed away at his home with family at his side Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Paul was the son of Albert Buck "Vannie" and Laila Pennington Chestnut. He was born in Gastonia on Dec. 30, 1927.

Paul was a native of the Carolinas, growing up in Horry County S.C., Gaston and Brunswick counties. At 16, Paul joined the war effort in 1944, enlisting in the U.S. Navy. During his military career spanning 26 years, he served during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He was on five continents and greater than 30 countries. He cruised both on and under the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as part of the 'Silent Service', the U.S. Submarine Service. Paul was a proud Plank Owner of the USS Tinosa SSN 606. He completed his initial enlistment in the Navy in 1946 and joined the U.S. Army, earning glider wings and jump wings as a paratrooper. While serving in the Army, he met and married his wife, Rachel Brannon of Dallas, N.C., in 1951. After his Army enlistment, he returned to the U.S. Navy and stayed for the next two decades. The couple expanded into a family of five moving over a dozen times during his career.

Paul experienced the 'wild blue yonder' (airborne) to the 'deep blue sea' (submariner service) and all points in between. After retirement from the Navy in 1970 at his last duty station, Kenitra, Morocco, Paul and his family returned to Brunswick County, the home he always loved. He became the first fire chief for the newly organized volunteer fire department at Sunset Beach in 1972. He worked as a bridge tender for one of the last swing bridges in the state, a shrimper, and store manager. Paul was baptized and became an active member of Shallotte Presbyterian Church, serving as a deacon.

Paul and Rachel moved to Wilmington in 1976 where Paul continued to work in security and other managerial positions. He was active in the BPOE Elks Lodge in Wilmington and volunteered for the VA in Fayetteville. He was an avid coin collector and was a member of the Lower Cape Fear Coin Club.

Paul and Rachel were active in square dance for several years while in Wilmington and made trips to Europe, Mexico and South America during their early retirement years. Family visits were always on the itinerary to visit out-of-town children, grandchildren and other family. They moved to California in 2000, then to Colorado in 2007 to stay close to family. Paul joined the Submariners Club in Colorado Springs and participated in the annual Veterans Day parade and community philanthropic endeavors until his last year.

Paul was a much loved and respected husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather to his large family. The patriarch at all gatherings, his presence made any event matter more. He was generous of heart and generous with forgiveness. Paul sacrificed much for his family. He did it with a loving and devoted heart.

He is preceded in death by his parents; daughter, Barbara Susan Chestnut; brothers, A. B. Chestnut Junior, Gene Marion Chestnut, James "Jimmy" Albert Chestnut; and sister, Mary Lynn Chestnut.

Paul is survived by his beloved wife of 67 years, Rachel Brannon Chestnut; daughters, Paula Raymond, Debra Chestnut, and Nancy (Paul) Reifke; grandchildren, Maxine Inman, Dr. Georgianna Shea, David Flick, Summer Bartshe, Zachary Williamson, Steven Benton, Erik Reifke, Paul Reifke, and Evgeny (Zhenya) Reifke; sister, Johnnie Mae (Roland "Babe") Thomas; sisters-in-law, Connie Chestnut, Sue Chestnut, and Linda Chestnut; and 11 great-grandchildren that have had the privilege of knowing their great-grandfather; along with numerous nieces and nephews.

Memorial services will be held at Concord United Methodist Church in Supply in the spring of 2019. 

Paul will be laid to final rest close to his daughter, Barbara Susan Chestnut and brother, A.B. "Jr." Chestnut. Paul will finally be home again, in his beloved Brunswick County. 

Arrangements by The Springs Funeral Services: