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To honor wife, La Grange man visits hospital chapel more than 1,000 times

Many Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital employees have come to know Lee Cheshier who likes to remember his late wife by playing the chapel piano. Lee and his wife, Catherine, were married for 66 years.

Meet Lee Cheshier.


Every day for four years Cheshier has stopped by the chapel at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital in honor of his wife, Catherine, who passed away there in 2009. Excluding holidays and the occasional sick day, that’s almost 1,500 chapel visits.


“She was my life,” said Lee, who lives a few miles from the hospital in La Grange. “I was her sole caretaker and I still miss her every day. When I’m at the chapel, I feel like I’m near her.”


Lee and Catherine Cheshier met at a Chicago high school when Catherine was 15 years old and Lee was 17 years old.  They married, had two children and moved to La Grange 35 years ago. They were together for 66 years before Catherine passed away from Alzheimer’s disease.


“I sat behind her in class,” said Cheshier about the day the two met. “The first thing I did was pull her hair and she turned right around and told me to stop it. I knew then she was going to be my girl.”


Lee, who wears a hearing aid, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2004. Usually he spends just a few minutes in the hospital chapel, which is usually empty. Sometimes Lee stays longer and plays a few notes on the chapel piano, which he taught himself to play.


The chapel -- and more specifically the piano -- at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital have always been special to Cheshier. The very day he lost Catherine, the hospital’s then-CEO, Rick Wright, walked in and asked if he could play a song. Wright and Cheshier eventually became friends and later went to lunch together.


Today Cheshier plays the piano for himself. However, one day he didn’t notice a woman sitting in the back of the chapel. When he finished, she simply stood up and said “Thank you, that really helped me today,” and left.  


Mark Woolfington, the chaplain at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital, introduced himself to Lee after watching Lee walk into the chapel, Bible and cup of coffee in hand, day after day.    


“Lee is a gentleman in the truest sense of the word and a great blessing to our hospital family,” Woolfington said. “If you enter the chapel while he is playing the piano, he’ll always ask if his playing will disturb you. I’ve told Lee many times that the opposite is true. His presence and gentle music have helped many other visitors and patients through their own difficult times.”


Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. To find a physician, visit  Media contact: Sheila Galloro, public relations specialist, Adventist Midwest Health, 630-856-2359.