MOORHEAD, Minn. — Elizabeth Nan Dean Chilton died on Oct. 12, 2013, in Moorhead, Minn., at age 93, succumbing to multiple illnesses.
Elizabeth “Libby” had been married to Robert “Bob” Carter Chilton for more than 65 years. Once Bob passed this past March her normally strong constitution was compromised as she had lost the love of her life. Each of her children cared for her during her later years, just as she wanted. She will always be remembered by family and friends as a very special and fun loving mom, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, athlete, artist and girlfriend.
Libby was born in Jamesport, L.I., on Nov. 4, 1919, along with her twin sister, Eleanor Ann. As Libby tells the story, she was born breach and simply gave Eleanor a kick. Libby continued to use those legs wisely developing into a natural athlete when the family later moved upstate to East Aurora. On one occasion, the high school boys athletic coach pointed out Libby’s talents to his team to demonstrate how to kick a ball. She also had a great arm, and was quickly identified when the rotten tomato she threw at boys in a rumble seat hit its target. She was an avid skier, joining her close friend Jeanette Blair in the nearby hills, while Jeanette’s husband, Bob, captured the two of them in a painting. Later in life she excelled in bowling and golfing, routinely beating the boys.
Libby attended the Art Institute of Buffalo with her friend Jeanette Blair. Jeanette’s husband, Bob, a prolific Western New York artist, painted a vivid portrait of Libby whose red hair was the focal point of a piece he entitled “an incendiary bomb.” Following the end of World War II, Libby left the Village of East Aurora, to live with her sister, Edna, in Brooklyn. Libby, “one of 12” as she called herself, had brilliant red hair and great looking legs which caught the eye of “Bobby” Chilton, a Brooklyn Boy and Navy veteran. They attended the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church — the “Christian Mingle” of its time, as Pastor David Dyson dubbed it, because not only did Bob and Libby meet through the young people’s group, so did Edna and her husband, Al and Bob’s brother, Donald and his wife, Charlotte.
In 1974, Libby received a fresh set of paints just as she and Bob were becoming “empty nesters” so Libby decided to put them to good use taking art classes in historic Savannah, Ga., just years before the founding of Savannah College of Art and Design. Soon her talents as a landscape artist blossomed. She graciously gave away her paintings to family and friends throughout the years. The family moved quite a bit, from the Northeast to the Southeast, finally settling in Bedford, N.H., for more than 20 years. Libby applied not only her other artistic talents as they moved from house to house, painting and wallpapering rooms, but also her gardening talents she learned from her father, Clarence. She oftentimes found rocks barely hidden beneath the earth which inevitably turned into boulders. Bob, the naïve city boy, was responsive to her calls for help. He diligently heeded Libby’s directions, and managed to unearth the rocks with a pick and shovel. Libby always took it from there, rolling them to the most aesthetically pleasing place in her garden or neatly wedging them into rock wall she was building.
Elizabeth and Robert had a love that endured. A look or a touch was all it took to reignite their undying love, and out of that love, Libby and Bob had three children, William Reeve Chilton, Elizabeth Carter Chilton, and Susan Gail Chilton. As a mother, Libby was always there, making great toboggan runs for flying saucers, tending to wounds when play became a bit dangerous, and creating unique songs, such as “We’re Pals Today”, a stair marching song. Libby had an uncompromising spirit, and as Bob often said, you always knew where Libby stood on an issue. Libby enjoyed life to its fullest, always rising to the occasion to tip a glass with friends and family. She will remain close to our hearts, is deeply missed, and will be forever loved.
Libby is survived by her son, William Reeve Chilton (and wife, Joy), Lake Elmore, Vt.; daughters, Elizabeth Carter Chilton Schneider (and husband, Scott), Fargo, N.D., and Susan Gail Chilton Jamback (and husband, Bob), Mechanicsville, Va.; grandchildren, Jennifer Elizabeth Schneider Camp, Russell James Schneider, Anna Christine Chilton Slack, Abigail Grace Baker Thrasher, Robert Austin Baker, Cassandra Carter Schneider, and Reeve Carter Chilton; great-grandchildren, Elizabeth Carroll Camp and Adelynn Joann Schneider; sister, Anita; and brother, Hallock.
She is predeceased by her husband, Robert Carter Chilton and her siblings, Reeve Ward Dean, Edna Miriam Dean, Dorothy Blanche Dean, James Edward Dean, Marjorie Jane Dean, Janice Dean, Eleanor Ann Dean, Wilfred Stewart Dean, Annetta Dean, Clarence Ward Dean Jr., and Alta Dean.
Memorial donations may be made to East Aurora High School in East Aurora or the American Heart Association.