Walter Bryan “Buster” Chandler
MOUNDVILLE – Walter Bryan “Buster” Chandler, of Moundville, Alabama, age 94, died on Saturday February 15, 2020, at Hospice of West Alabama. A graveside service will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday February 21, 2020, at Oak Hill Cemetery in Moundville, with Magnolia Chapel Funeral Home South directing and Reverend Michael Cobb officiating. Family visitation will follow at the Moundville United Methodist Church Family Life Center.
He was preceded in death by his first wife and mother of his children, Evelyn Shipley Chandler, his second wife Ellen Sullivan Britton Chandler, his parents, Walter Jackson and Willie Owens Chandler, his stepmother Mary Owens Chandler, his sister, Mary Alyce Chandler Johnson, his brother Robert Jackson Chandler, his twin brother William Owens Chandler and his stepson Jeff Britton.
Survivors include his sons Bryan Ross Chandler (Theresa) of Tuscaloosa, Dr. Michael Owens Chandler (Stephanie) of Huntsville and Henry Clayton Chandler of Moundville, stepdaughter Dr. Suzanne Wicker (Bill), stepson Dr. Mark Britton (Nancy); grandchildren, Eric Bryan Chandler (Shannon), Tracie Michelle Chandler Manderson, Sara Michael Chandler Amthor (Phil) and Allison Payne Chandler Thomas (Josh); great-grandchildren, Mary Coleman Chandler, Jackson Payne Manderson, Annalee Fitts Manderson, Sarah Evelyn Chandler, Walter Bryan Chandler, II, Anna Jane Amthor and Henry Harrison Thomas (due in March).
Buster was born on September 1, 1925 in Moundville Alabama. He was a farmer, businessman and civic leader throughout most of his adult life. Always possessing a strong work ethic, he and brother Bill learned to pick cotton at age three on his father’s farm. He graduated from Hale County High School in 1943 and in June 1943 at age 17 entered the United States Navy where he initially trained as an aviator. In order to enter combat sooner he switched gunnery school and was training as a top turret gunner on the Avenger torpedo bomber when World War II ended. He received an honorable discharge in May 1946. He attended the University of Alabama and soon returned to marry Evelyn Shipley of Moundville and join his father and brother Bill in the family farming business that consisted of growing cotton, corn, soybeans, a beef cattle operation, a cotton gin, a feed and fertilizer business and a dairy farm that at one time bottled Grade A “raw” milk for door to door delivery. He participated in and held leadership positions in the various related organizations including Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association, National Cotton Council, Alabama Dairy Farmers Association and Flying Farmers of Alabama.
He was elected to the Moundville Town Council in 1952 at age 27. In 1956 he was elected unopposed as Mayor of Moundville and served seven terms until 1984 when he decided not to seek reelection. During his years as Mayor he worked tirelessly along with the Town Council to improve Moundville. His tenure included serving on the board of the Greene‐Hale Gas District, one term on the West Alabama Planning and Development Council and as chair of the Moundville Industrial Committee.
A lifelong member of the Moundville United Methodist Church, he served in numerous leadership positions on the Administrative Board, taught Sunday School and, along with Evelyn, sang in the church choir. In the early 2000s he was instrumental in the construction of its Family Life Center. During the years the church sponsored the annual sunrise Easter service, “The Road to Calvary”, in Mound State Park he was in charge of lighting and sound. For many years he was the first person at the church building early each Sunday morning to turn on heating, air and lights. In later years he was in the sound booth during Sunday morning worship and also volunteered many hours to the church thrift shop and general church maintenance matters.
In earlier years he was an avid squirrel hunter who loved to have family and friends accompany him and his dog in river-bottom woods he knew by heart. When his sons were younger he often took them on sight-seeing flights as he piloted his Cessna 172. A common sight was him driving in Moundville with his dogs, Sam and Boss, standing on the cab of this truck. For many years he was the public address announcer for Hale County High School football games including the years his sons played football. He was an Alabama football fan and attended football games from the J.B Whitworth era through the Saban era. A true “jack of all trades” he was part mechanic, part electrician, part electronics technician, part welder, part weatherman and part veterinarian. In virtually everything he did he was hands-on, leading by example and working hard while characteristically chewing on his tongue that was sticking out of one side of his mouth.
The family wishes to thank his faithful care-givers, Annette Lowe, Nancy Pearson and David McKinstry, the staff of Forest Manor Nursing Home station 3 and the employees of DCH 6th South and Hospice of West Alabama who cared for him in his final days.
Pallbearers will be Eric Chandler, Jackson Manderson, Josh Thomas, Phil Amthor, Michael Brown and Bruce Sams. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Moundville United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 35, Moundville, AL 35474 or Hospice of West Alabama, 3851 Loop Road, Tuscaloosa, AL 35404.
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