Dr. Nia Lane Chester, age 75, passed away peacefully on May 22, 2021, surrounded by her family in Lincoln, Massachusetts. She was born on December 8th, 1945, in Los Angeles, California, to Tom Lane and Virginia “Ginnie” Lane. She earned a BA from Smith College (1967), an MA from Columbia University Teachers College (1968), and a PhD in Psychology from Boston University (1981). Nia married her late husband David Bunting in 2010, with whom she spent many wonderful years later in life.
Dr. Chester spent more than 30 years in Higher Education, developing innovative approaches to curriculum and promoting success among underserved student populations. From 1998 to 2011, Dr. Chester served as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Until her passing, she worked as a principal member of the Yes We Must Coalition, guiding research and cultivating strategies for the success of low income students in higher education. Dr. Chester also authored numerous papers and books, including her work on the impact of divorce on families and the experience of women in the workforce.
An endlessly compassionate spirit, Nia’s trademark positivity and selflessness left an unmistakable impression on her family, friends, and acquaintances alike. Helping others was her natural inclination – always the teacher, nurturer, and advocate in her personal as well as professional life. A resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts for over 40 years, Nia remained physically active until the last months of her life and could often be found on the tennis courts at the Mount Auburn Club or rowing on the early morning waters of the Charles River. Nia’s lifelong connection to the water grew from her childhood days sailing with her family out of Rye, New York, and culminated in the nearly 20 summers she spent at the Lake Winnipesaukee island home she shared with her late husband David.
She is survived by her loving sons Caben Chester and Ian Chester and their partners Andrea Chester and Vanessa Picone, brother Christopher Lane, stepchildren Derek Bunting and Nikki Bunting, and her former husband and father of her children Charles Ronald Chester. A small group of close family and friends will assemble at Mount Auburn Cemetery at 2:30pm on June 10th, 2021, to both grieve her passing and celebrate her life. In lieu of flowers, her family has requested that contributions in her memory be made to the Nia Lane Chester Memorial Fund through the Yes We Must Coalition to help continue the work she was so passionate about.