Chester “Chet” Riley, a longtime resident of Naturita, Colorado, first moved to western Colorado while a very young boy with his parents and siblings. Chester attended and graduated from Nucla High School in 1984, after which he graduated from Wyoming Technical College as a certified mechanic. Chester eventually found his way back to Naturita and joined the Nucla Naturita Volunteer Fire Department on Christmas Day in 1986, as a volunteer fireman. He served for 10 years before leaving the area after seeking employment out of town in 1996. Chester returned in 2005, resuming his duties as a volunteer fireman, as well as serving as a volunteer on the Montrose County Sheriff’s Posse. Chester had a passion for fighting wildland fire, spending countless hours battling many of Colorado’s wildfires over the years. In 2014, he was appointed chief of the fire department.
Chester loved all manner of outdoor activities—hiking, hunting, fishing, panning for gold, or simply walking in the wilderness. He was most happy with the sky overhead instead of a roof. The only thing Chester loved more was his family, which included his wife, Shantel; daughters, Melissa, Kindra, and Melinda; and son, Morgan. And, of course, he loved being a grandpa, brother, and uncle. Chester was preceded in death by his mother, Alma. He is survived by his father, John; brothers, John Jr. and Cameron; and sister, Elizabeth, who all miss him daily.
Chester was a kind, giving person. He made friends with everyone he met. His infectious smile and laugh left a lasting impression on everyone who met him.
On March 20, 2021, Chester responded to a motor vehicle accident to assist with rescue and EMS operations. While on scene, Chief Chester Riley collapsed, unresponsive. Efforts to revive the chief were not successful, resulting in a fatal cardiac arrest. Chief Chester Riley’s End of Watch came while he was in service to others, helping his fellow man. He died doing what his soul directed him to do, helping others.
Chester left his mark on the world, teaching all of us to be better human beings by the example he set for us all to follow. He will live on forever in our thoughts and in our hearts.