Biography of Chester D. Brownell

Chester D. Brownell is president of the Reliable Plumbing and Heating Company of Champaign. His career, which has been known to the people of this locality since he was a boy, has not been one of spectacular success, but a slow and steady progress from minor duties and responsibilities to something better and larger, and from an employee he became an employer, and is now at the head of a business second to none in efficiency and facilities in the county.

Mr. Brownell has been a resident of Champaign nearly all his life, but was born in Chautauqua County, New York, April 10, 1873. His parents were Oliver D. and Lucy A. (Sabin) Brownell, also natives of Chautauqua County, New York. His father was a soldier in the Civil War and subsequently a conductor with the Erie Railway Company. In 1876 he removed to Champaign and engaged in the implement business with his brother-in-law, C. J. Sabin. He maintained an active connection with that firm until 1895, when he retired. He also served as chief of police of Champaign under Mayor Sabin and also during Mayor Woody’s administration. He was a highly esteemed citizen and is still well remembered in the community. His death occurred April 11, 1905. His widow is still living in Champaign. Chester D. Brownell is their only son, and their only daughter, Pearl, is the wife of E. G. Greenman, of Champaign.

Chester D. Brownell was fortunate in his environment and the magnificent educational opportunities he enjoyed as a boy. He attended the public schools and also had about three years in the chemistry department of the University of Illinois. His first employment was as a bill clerk with the American Express Company, where he remained three years. In 1897 he became identified with the F. K. Robson department store, and for eight years was in the carpet and upholstery department. His experience and thorough knowledge of the business brought him an offer, which he accepted, to open the carpet department in the store of W. Lewis & Company, where he remained a year. From that he acquired an interest in a business of his own in the plumbing and heating department of Walsh, Heuck & Company. In 1905 Mr. Brownell organized the present business of the Reliable Plumbing and Heating Company, his former associate being Pearl Fisher. Subsequently Mr. Fisher sold his interests to Mr. E. G. Greenman, who is secretary and treasurer and Mr. Brownell is president of the corporation.

He was the first master of the Plumbers Association of Champaign, and for five years served as vice-president of the Illinois Master Plumbers Association. He has had some active part in local affairs, and for six years represented his ward on the board of aldermen. He is a member of the Champaign Chamber of Commerce, of which body he is president. He is affiliated with the Knights of Pythias, the Sons of Veterans, and is a member of the Christian Science Church. Mr. Brownell’s present public service is being given as a member of the board of education. In politics he is a Republican.

On June 8, 1896, he married Miss Maud Riffenberick, a native of Champaign. They are the parents of four children: Richard and Dean, twins, the former now deceased; Marion; and Chester, Jr.



Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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