Chester Schlake

Chester Schlake, 85, of Waukon died Saturday, April 13, 2024, at Northgate Care Center in Waukon. A private family celebration of life will be held on Chester’s 86th birthday at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Waukon with Pastor Bryan Robertson officiating. A private burial will be at Oakland Cemetery, Waukon. Martin-Grau Funeral Home in Waukon is handling arrangements.

Chester Schlake was born June 23, 1938, weighing only three pounds, at his parents’ home near Waterville, the son of Victor John and Viola Mae (Noack) Schlake. He was baptized and confirmed at Waterville Lutheran Church. In 1957, Chester graduated from Waterville High School. Chester taught Sunday school at Waterville Lutheran, which shared a pastor with Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Lansing; the two churches had joint Sunday school outings and get-togethers.

One of Our Savior’s Sunday school teachers was Darlene Christine Rouster; she and Chester met during a Sunday school teacher meeting. They were married July 10, 1960, at Our Savior’s in Lansing by Rev. Oradell Nordness. Chester and Darlene farmed for about seven years in the Waukon area before moving into town. They joined St. John’s Lutheran Church, continuing to teach Sunday school.

He worked at the IGA grocery store and drove school bus. For 40 years, Chester was a mill manager at Equity Co-op in Waukon. Chester was a tinkerer and could pretty much fix anything, also fixing sewing machines on the side. He liked to sing and listen to all kinds of music; he and Darlene were charter members of the Bluegrass Music Associations in Strawberry Point, Houston, MN, and Viroqua, WI. They continued to keep in touch with their bluegrass friends throughout the years. He loved camping and pulled their camper to bluegrass festivals. Primarily, Chester loved spending time with family, especially his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and often took them on motorcycle rides, camping, and to the park.

Chester is survived by his wife, Darlene, of Waukon; his daughter, Darcy Ann (John) Esser of Eitzen, MN; his son, Darwin Chester (Sharon) Schlake of Waukon; his grandchildren: Brittany Renae (Braylee) Schlake, Taylor Marie (Luke) Schulte, Mason Chester (Marissa) Schlake, Alexander John (Katie) Esser, and Austin James (Abbey Hammell) Esser; his great-grandchildren: Gabriel Luke and Greyson Darwin Schulte, and Hazel Grace, Haven Josephine, and Willow June Schlake, with one on the way; a sister-in-law, Lois Ann Conway of Waukon; a brother-in-law, Allen Stahl of Lansing; and his nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Ronald Victor (Alice) Schlacke; his sister, Janann Kay (Everett) Miene; his sister-in-law, Mabel Ione Stahl; and his father- and mother-in-law, Charlie and Geraldine Rouster.

Honorary bearers are Bob Bjerke, Dennis Dahlstrom, Paul Hanson, and Wayne Verthein. Online condolences may be left at