Model builder

Celebrating a man who built community was well as buildings

“Lou Chrysler was a builder.”

That statement was made several times last Saturday afternoon (Jan. 9) during the celebration of Chrysler’s life at the Butte Creek Country Club. It was a reference not only to Chrysler’s occupation—he owned Modern Building Co., one of the largest construction firms in the North State—but also to the fact that he built a lot more than structures.

Chrysler was 87 when he died on Christmas Eve after his car went off the Midway and struck a tree. A Naval Academy graduate and veteran of World War II and Korea, he was a member of a generation that came home from war to build their communities.

Examples of his construction work are ubiquitous: the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Enloe Medical Center’s new parking structure, Hamilton City High School, 500 Main St., the Favor Building at California Park, the new Matson & Isom building.

But Chrysler also built institutions. He was a founder and served as first chairman of the Enloe Foundation. He co-founded and was president of the club where his memorial was held. (There was considerable mention Saturday of his fondness for golf.) He served on the Chico school board and was its president for several years. He was president of Rotary for many years. And he was on the board of Mid-Valley Title for 42 years, 28 as its chairman.

In all these roles, he operated quietly and gracefully for the benefit of others. Dr. Jeffrey Lobosky, a neighbor of Chrysler’s who spoke at the gathering, described watching him run a meeting of the Enloe Foundation board with great skillfulness, “mentoring by example” the younger members of the board. “He taught a generation of young Chicoans what giving back was all about,” Lobosky said.

Chrysler’s granddaughter, Angela Chrysler, spoke movingly about the man she called “Papa.” She described how he and his wife of 65 years, Jean Ann, fell in love on their first date, and how he was “curious about everything and loved to travel” and had just finished reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals, about President Lincoln and his cabinet.

“Papa did everything well and in abundance with a modest and quiet dignity,” she said, choking back tears. “He was the rock and the heart of our family.”

All cities need builders. In Chico, Lou Chrysler was the very model of a builder who was as determined to build community as he was to build structures.

In this issue: Obesity is the most serious health crisis facing America, so our Health & Fitness special issue this week focuses on that subject, in the form of Managing Editor Meredith J. Cooper’s first-person account of her recent bariatric surgery and its aftermath. You’ll appreciate her candor and celebrate with her as she loses the pounds.

We’ve also sprinkled other H&F features throughout the paper, from our lead Newslines story to the 15 Minutes interview on the inside back page. Look for the fork-and-parsley logo designating these features. We hope you find them informative and enjoyable.