George Chesley
George Chesley

Celebration of Life

2:00 pm
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Serenity Funeral Home
34 Coldbrook Village Park Drive
Coldbrook, Nova Scotia, Canada
902 679 2822

Obituary of George Richard Chesley

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George Richard “Dick” Chesley of Halifax


A devoted husband and father. An influential academic of the highest standing. A kind and giving figure to countless family members, friends, and students. Dick Chesley was all these things, and it is with shattered hearts that his family announces his sudden passing on December 14, 2022, in Halifax, at the age of eighty-one.


Dick was born in Digby, in 1941, to the late George Ronald and Laura Marion (Beals) Chesley. Growing up in the Annapolis Valley, he spent precious time with his father fishing in Kejimkujik Park. When left to his own devices, would build things, like the flat-bottomed boat that he bravely took out onto Lake George. His first real job was as an assistant at his uncle’s auto shop, where his Uncle Frank instilled in Dick a diligent work ethic that would come to define his entire career. With his father’s passing in 1973, Dick became a mentor and father figure to his siblings Velma, Lois, and John, freely giving his advice and support.


Dick attended Mount Allison University, where he played varsity soccer (goalie) while earning a bachelor’s degree in commerce in 1964. He met his future wife, Dianna, through a ride-share posting. After being driven from Sackville to Grand Pre, it was not quite love at first sight for Dianna, but she felt somehow compelled to invite Dick to a Sadie Hawkins dance a month later. They married soon after graduation, and thus a ride of convenience turned into the ride of a lifetime.


Dick and Dianna spent a year in Montreal, where Dick began working toward his Chartered Accountant designation, and Dianna taught elementary school. One year later they moved to Halifax and Dick continued working on his CA designation. He began teaching nights at Dalhousie University. It was here that Dick discovered his love for teaching, and this propelled him to pursue graduate studies en route to a career in academia.


A year after daughter Christy was born, in 1970, Dick and family moved to Ohio where he attended Ohio State University, earning an M.A. and then a Ph.D. in accounting in 1973. He then took his first teaching position at Wharton School of Business.


In 1975, daughter Allison arrived, and Dick accepted a faculty position in accounting at Dalhousie University in Halifax, beginning his thirty-five-year career as an accounting professor. He became a pioneer in behavioural research in accounting, a stream of accounting research that was barely existent before 1970, and which would grow into an exciting and quickly expanding area of study.


This was only the beginning of an illustrious teaching and writing career. Dick’s work was published in numerous prestigious journals and academic publications, and he authored several textbooks in managerial and financial accounting. In 1989, he joined Saint Mary’s University, where he served as Chair of the Department of Accounting for six years, along with numerous other roles in the Sobey Faculty of Commerce. Dick also held visiting teaching positions at the University of Iowa, Hong Kong Baptist University, and Lingnan College.


Throughout his career, Dick was bestowed with many prestigious awards including the Saint Mary’s University Presidents Award for Exemplary Service and the L.S. Rosen Outstanding Educator Award given by the Canadian Academic Accounting Association, along with numerous distinguished grants and fellowships. Dick retired from Saint Mary’s University in 2006 and was granted the honour of Professor Emeritus.


Dick enjoyed close working relationships with his many colleagues, both at home and internationally. He was a dedicated academic supervisor and mentor to his many students, and took great pride in supporting their education and celebrating their personal and professional accomplishments. Dick particularly enjoyed building collaborative relationships with students and academics in China, and was instrumental in establishing programs that opened up opportunities for Chinese students to visit and study in Canada.


Along with his dedication to his academics and work, Dick always made home life a priority. While courting Dianna, he reserved Saturday nights and Sunday mornings for her. Dick would do anything for his girls. He logged countless hours driving Christy to her riding lessons (where he often graded papers sitting in a cold arena) and cello rehearsals; and with little complaint, took Allie to piano and dance classes. A teacher to his core, his lifelong love of soccer was passed on to a generation of kids in Wedgewood during his years as a soccer coach.


Dick and Dianna maintained an active social life, hosting many a supper club and bridge game, and together they attended countless shows at Neptune theatre and the Rebecca Cohen. One of Dick’s very favourite musical moments, however, was watching his own daughters put down their instruments during their orchestra performances and break into vocal song. Later in life, Dick loved spending time with his granddaughters Gabby and Angie, and was a generous benefactor of their many after-school activities.


In his fifties, Dick took up curling, and was active in the Halifax curling scene for many years. In later years, he was bestowed the title of “Super Senior Curler” (over seventy-five) at the Wolfville Curling Club. A keen sportsman in his youth, his matter-of-fact recollections of playing donkey-baseball while growing up in Berwick were particularly interesting to his daughters! He continued to enjoy watching sports on TV, particularly hockey (go Penguins!) and curling.


Dick and Dianna shared a love of cruises, and when Dick finally began his well-earned retirement, they set sail for many exotic ports, sometimes joined by their daughter Allie and her husband Rob. An Alaskan cruise, a cruise through the Panama Canal, and a Baltic Sea voyage were among their favourite destinations.


Dick could often be found in his study, surrounded by newspapers and National Geographic magazines, the sounds of CBC radio or TV playing in the background. He loved a good debate, and for those brave enough to take him on, he made for a formidable intellectual opponent. Dick was a creature of habit, whether enjoying his morning coffee, or his usual peanut-butter-and-coffee-break-cookie lunch at the university. He took joy in the simple things, and Dianna would often catch him staring out the window onto Kearney Lake, watching kayaks and cormorants glide across its serene waters. By living an incredible life, by being a man of kindness and generosity, he had earned these little moments of beauty.


Enjoy the view, Dick. We love you, always.


Dick shall be missed by his wife Dianna, daughters Christy (Rob) Chesley and Allison (Rob) Shaw; sisters Velma Kinsman and Lois Howard, brother John (Sharon) Chesley, brother-in-law Bryce Milne, grand-daughters Gabriela and Angela, and nieces and nephews Suzanne, Mark, Bobbi Lynn, Scott, Trevor, Kim, Robert, Leah and Sara. Besides his parents, Dick was predeceased by brothers-in-law Murry Kinsman and Alan Howard, and sister-in-law Sylvia Milne.


A celebration of Dick’s life will be held July 18, 2023, at 2:00 pm in the Serenity Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations in Dick’s memory to the Dr. George Richard Chesley Memorial Bursary at Saint Mary’s University ( or 1-888-768-4483). Arrangements have been entrusted to Serenity Funeral Home, 34 Coldbrook Village Park Dr., Coldbrook, NS, B4R 1B9 (902-679-2822).

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