Cover photo for Chester Thomas Alderman's Obituary
Chester Thomas Alderman Profile Photo

Chester Thomas Alderman

August 18, 1938 — January 25, 2022

Chester Thomas Alderman, an electrical engineer, ham radio expert and decorated Navy veteran, passed away at his home in Valdosta, Georgia on Tuesday with his daughter and sons at his side. He was 83. The cause was lung cancer.

“Tommy,” as he was known to his friends, was born August 18, 1938 in Valdosta and graduated from Valdosta State College with a degree in electrical engineering, for which he had a natural talent that paved the way to a decades-long engineering career in Washington, D.C.

His passion was electronics, which started at the early age of 10, when he got hooked on amateur radio. He operated under the call sign W4BQF for the next 70 years, typing Morse code at 110 words a minute and connecting with “hams” in almost every single country on the planet. He won numerous awards for speed and accuracy in international ham radio contests, aided by a 40-foot radio tower that he installed in his backyard.

A lover of fast cars, Tommy also delighted in speeding Porsches and Jaguars around local race tracks at a young age, and at one point owned a rare model Lotus sports car.

As a teenager, he enlisted in the United States Navy during the Vietnam war, following in the military footsteps of his father, Creighton, who was also Valdosta’s postmaster general. Tommy went on to receive one of the Navy's highest honors, the Navy Achievement Medal, for his work in single-handedly re-designing a special surface-to-air missile detection system in fighter planes that saved the lives of countless American fighter pilots in Vietnam.

While overseas, Tommy met his future wife, Lisa, a native of Hong Kong (now deceased) with whom he had three children. They settled in Virginia, where Tommy worked in the private sector in Washington D.C. designing surveillance and tracking systems for the U.S. military, federal agencies and electronics companies.

His designs ranged from devices employed by federal agents in the arrest case of John DeLorean, the former auto magnate, to miniature cameras used for the first time by professional skiers in international sports competitions. Later, he worked for the U.S. government as a network engineer.

In 2003, he moved back to Valdosta to take care of his aging parents, Alice and Creighton, and to be near his siblings, Mary, his sister, and his brother Buck, who have since passed on. He is survived by his daughter Elizabeth and his two twin sons, Tim and Terry.

Tommy settled into a beautiful 15 acre property with a fishing pond in Cecil, Georgia and made numerous friends. He loved to catch fish with Tim and Terry–also Navy veterans–and run his mowing tractor over the fields with his beloved and faithful dog Cleo sitting up at the steering wheel. He also took pride in visiting his daughter Elizabeth at her home in Paris, France.

His children are grateful to have had the privilege of being by his side and will cherish his memory always.

A memorial service honoring Tommy will be held on Saturday, January 29, 2022 at 11 a.m. at McLane Riverview Memorial Gardens, 3945 North Valdosta Rd., Valdosta, GA 31602. Condolences to the family may be conveyed online at Carson McLane Funeral Home

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Service Schedule

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Memorial Service

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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McLane Riverview Memorial Gardens

3945 North Valdosta Road
Valdosta, GA 31602

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