June 4, 2014 - 9:06 pm
Along with the successful career Chester T. Sewell had at Basic Magnesium Inc. and its affiliated companies, he worked hard to give back to the community.
His efforts opened the door for him to be the namesake of Sewell Elementary School, 700 E. Lake Mead Drive.
Sewell was born Jan. 22, 1904, in Grand Falls, Texas.
He spent most of his life in Southern California before he moved to Henderson — which was then referred to as the Basic Townsite — in 1942 to work at Basic Magnesium Inc.
The plant harvested magnesium during World War II to help build better bombs.
“He was too old to serve in the military, so he thought he could help this way,” his daughter, Andrea Sewell, said in a Henderson Home News article. “He gave up a great job in Southern California to help with the war. It was strictly patriotic.”
While working for BMI, Sewell became part of the Henderson school board
In 1956, when the Clark County School District was created after Henderson and Las Vegas school districts merged, Sewell became the Henderson representative.
Sewell is recognized for helping implement programs and strategy when the student population began to increase, jumping from 27,000 to 57,000.
“He helped create a building program that alleviated school crowding in the 1960s,” said Nicole Santero, a spokeswoman with the Clark County School District.
Sewell retired in 1966 after suffering from life-threatening ulcers.
But even after retiring, he continued to help with the school district.
In honor of what he meant to the school district, Valley View Elementary School was renamed to honor Sewell.
Some notable students who attended Valley View Elementary School include Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen, former Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson and former Henderson judge Ken Proctor.
Sewell died Aug. 8, 1998, at age 94.
Claudia Johnson, a former school counselor, said people like Sewell were instrumental in the success of the school district.
“We are fortunate to have had leaders such as Chester who blazed the trail for us so many years ago,” she said at his funeral according to the Henderson Home News.
Contact Henderson View reporter Michael Lyle at email@example.com or 702-387-5201.