Old Chester, PA: Famous Personalities
with Chester & Delaware County Connections


Haley, Bill



"As a biographer of Bill Haley, I have a fair number of stories relating to Bill's time in the area. For now, one which comes to mind from visiting the Chester-Bridgeport Ferry page is that the ferry ran aground on the sandbank on 12th April 1954, and made Bill Haley and His Comets late for the Rock Around the Clock recording session for Decca Records in New York."

Chris Gardner, c.gardner@virgin.net

Although a Michigan native, Bill Haley and his family moved to Boothwyn when he was a teenager and he renamed his band Bill Haley & The Comets while working at Chester radio station WDRF.   (See the story on that page contributed by Paul Crowther.)

Joe M. DiPlacido, joe.diplacido@exeloncorp.com adds:

"... Bill Halley and the Comets had their studio across the street from the [Hanley] firehouse."

from Betty-Jane Bennett Smith, Smith9697@aol.com:

"I believe the original drummer for Bill Haleys Comets was Ralph Jones Class of 1940 CHS.  He was Vice President of my class.  He played the drums for the CHS Dance Band under the direction of Charles D. Long."

Click here for more about Bill Haley from Louis J. Warfel's (loujwarfel@juno.com) My Book of Old Chester


Iacocca, Lee


Perhaps best known for his role as CEO of Chrysler Corporation, Lee Iacocca spent a part of his early automotive career in Chester at the Ford assembly plant.

LaSpada, Carmella Chester High School graduate and founder of the No Greater Love organization.

Lee, Nancy Nancy Lou Rodgers, recording artist for Robert Mullen Publishing House in NY City, a 1952 Chester High graduate. Recordings included "So Lonely for You" and "Don't You Care".

Lytle, Marshall Marshall Lytle was one of the Comets. He lived on Green Street near Concord Road in Chester Township.

King, Jr. Dr. Martin Luther While not a Chester native, Dr. King attended Upland's Crozer Theological Seminary and was active at Calvary Baptist Church.

Many of his Chester connections are outlined in a 1989 Daily Times article, King had a mentor in Chester, written by Rev. Kirk Byron Jones.

Murtaugh, Danny Click here for more about Danny Murtaugh from Louis J. Warfel's (loujwarfel@juno.com) My Book of Old Chester

Picture from Chester Day at Shibe Park, September 21, 1941.

North, Alex
(Born Alexis Soifer)
Composer of "Unchained Melody" and more than 50 film scores including A Streetcar Named Desire, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf, Rich Man Poor Man, Spartacus, and Prizzi's Honor.

North also wrote the original score for 2001 A Space Odyssey but at the last minute it was replaced with classical music by Strauss. Varese Sarabande Records has recorded and released the "2001 CD".

Received the Lifetime Achievement Oscar in 1986.

Born: 12/04/1910 in Chester, PA
Died: 09/08/1991
Age: 81


Podgajny, Johnny Johnny played for the Phillies during the 1940's.

Picture from Chester Day at Shibe Park, September 21, 1941.

Raabe, Meinhardt


Living in Marple in 1974, Meinhardt Raabe, a former Oscar Mayer company chef, was known as "Little Oscar Emeritus".  He had also played the role of one of the Munchkins in the "Wizard of Oz".


Simpson, Dr. John O. A Chester High School graduate, he is now the Superintendent of Norfolk Public Schools in Norfolk, Va.  He just recently won the Richard R. Green Award. He was chosen from a group of urban school leaders who chose Dr. Simpson based on leadership, innovation, professionalism, and community involvement.

Click here to read Dr. Simpson's biography on the Norfolk Public Schools' website.

Vernon, Mickey A native of Marcus Hook and a baseball legend.

"Mickey has been denied hall of fame honors in Cooperstown which he justly deserves for his outstanding baseball accomplishments. He began his career in 1939 and was active until 1961. He managed the Washington Senators, won the American League batting championship in 1946 and again in 1953. His record of 2,409 games at first base wasn't broken until 1997 by Eddie Murray. He had 2,495 career hits and a .286 career batting average. Truly a diamond in our own back yard."

- Joe Cirilli, Delaware County (PA) Athletes Hall of Fame

Waters, Ethel


A true Chester native, Ethel Waters was born in the city on October 31, 1896.  She went on to become a noted actress and jazz and blues singer.  She was perhaps the best known African American performer of the 1930's and 1940's.  Among her best-known songs were "Stormy Weather" and "Dinah."  She was also active with evangelist Billy Graham's crusades from 1957 until 1977. She wrote two autobiographical works, His Eye Is on the Sparrow (1951) and To Me It's Wonderful (1972).  Ms. Waters died in California in 1977.

Portions of this sketch:
"Waters, Ethel," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2000
http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Click here for more about Ethel Waters from Louis J. Warfel's (loujwarfel@juno.com) My Book of Old Chester

A picture of Ethel Waters taken during her April 1972 visit to Chester for the dedication of Ethel Waters Park. (Picture courtesy of Larry & Martha Wood, mwoodstocked@aol.com)

Wells, Brandi Marguerite J. (nee Pinder) Bannister (AKA Brandi Wells) died on March 25, 2003.

Funeral services were held on Friday April 4, 2003 beginning at 12 noon at First Pentecostal Holy Church, 324 Pusey Street in Chester, Pa.




If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about Famous Personalities with connections to Chester, please forward it to john@oldchesterpa.com

© 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 John A. Bullock III.

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This page last updated 02/24/07