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Tom Chestnut 1918-1907
Thompson Van Valkenburgh Chestnut, a resident of Bolinas, a musician, teacher, humanist and conservationist passed away on November 2 of natural causes after a brief illness.
He first came to Marin County with his family in 1923, attending Summit Elementary School, Old Mill School and Tamalpais High School, graduating in 1937. He was awarded a BA from San Francisco State in 1941, receiving his master's degree after WW2 in 1952.
His father, a founder and organizer of the Carpenters Union became a contractor and built bridges around the state until Tom and his older brother James had to start school. So the family settled in Mill Valley. Raised in Mill Valley, he spent much time in Bolinas as a child. In the early 70s he built a house on Larch road and later acquired more acreage around him and planted 500 redwoods.
Mr. Chestnut was stationed at the Presidio during World War II where he conducted the Presidio marching band and formed a jazz band for the canteen in which played Vernon Alley, Dave Brubeck, and Paul Desmond. It was the first inter-racial army canteen band.
His teaching career included a variety of elementary schools, Tam High School and College of Marin.
Mr. Chestnut performed with the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Opera, the Curran Theater, the Ice Follies, KEO, KPO, KFRC, the Monterrey Jazz Festival with Dizzy Gillespie, Gunther Shiller, the Canadian Opera, the Marin Symphony, where he served as Assistant Conductor; Kings County Symphony, the Bolinas July 4th Parade. He composed two musicals for the Bohemian Club in San Francisco.
Mr. Chestnut was involved with the World Population Institute and other environmental causes.
He was a kind and gentle man who was well liked and respected by all who knew him. His beloved companion Crell Bazen and children Constance, Kathryn and James survive him. Rest in Peace Tom Chestnut.
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