Rev. Joseph Preston Chestnut, born June 14, 1934, was the eldest child of Joseph Preston Bradman and Oreda Chestnut in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Raised by godly parents who trained their child in the way they should go, led him to accept Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord at a very young age which continued throughout his lifetime until he received his call to “come home to glory” on March 29, 2018.
He was educated in the Philadelphia Public School system until the age of 17 when he enlisted in the United States Air Force. While in the service, he continued his education and became a coveted Ham Radio operator and played on an award-winning basketball team. Traveling around the world during his 20-year tour of duty, he found France to be the most desirable place on earth and became fluent in French. He served in the Korean War and the Vietnam Conflict (to which the latter he volunteered a second tour because he was heartbroken to witness such inexperienced young men losing their lives). He retired from military service in 1971 with a rank of Sergeant.
Christmas of 1964, he married the love of his life, Mary Emma, and resided in Smyrna, Georgia. Joe had a zest for life and was always ready to bring a smile and laughter to others. He loved telling jokes and found humor in the simplest things. He was also an avid sports fan. He loved children because he was a child at heart.
After leaving the Air Force and now divorced, he took up residence in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where he worked as the first black fireman there. During this time, there was a calling on his life and he moved to Charleston, South Carolina and attended Jerusalem Baptist Church under the pastorate of Rev. Dr. William Salley. He was ordained a deacon then later went on to obtain a degree from Morris College under the mentorship of Dr. Whipple. Joseph received his ministerial ordination at Jerusalem from Rev. Dr. Salley.
After living in Charleston several years, he moved to his family’s hometown of Florence, South Carolina. He joined Majority Baptist Church under the pastorate of Rev. Dr. Chaney. Rev. Chestnut served as Sunday School teacher at the church and was appointed Associate Minister.
Leaving to mourn his transition to Glory - adopted sister Sonia W. E. James and daughters – Tiffany and Sharean (Philadelphia, PA); a loving and dear cousin, Lelia Jarvis (Philadelphia); Cousins - Shirley Anderson and children - Lander and LaRhonda (New York, NY); David Anderson; Daniel (Pamela) Anderson (New York, NY); Roy Davis; James (Margaret) Grippon (Charleston, SC); James (Helen) Chestnut (Virginia Beach, VA); Karleyne Joiner, Deacon Errick (Barbara) Bryant; Rev. Rod McDowell and the devoted church members of Majority Baptist Church; and a host of relatives and friends.