By Kelsi Peace, Features Editor
Richard Chastain, an award-winning audio technician and faithful university historian, died Sunday in Abilene after a long battle with cancer.
Chastain, who was 67, served on the Centennial Collections Task Force, restoring “at-risk” audio and video recordings that document the university’s history. Chastain was one of six alumni who received the Hashknife Award, also known as the John and Ruth Stevens Historical Preservation Award, for his tireless work.
Chastain’s wife, Rita Chastain, said the award was a great surprise for the work her husband loved doing.
“I know he loved working there,” Chastain said, “I know he enjoyed his job.”
Dr. Charles Marler, professor emeritus and senior faculty of journalism and mass communication, served as the Collections Task Force chair, and said Chastain left the university a historical record that will not deteriorate.
“It was his passion,” Marler said. “He knew that stuff inside and out.”
While Marler did not know Chastain well outside the Task Force, he said his work surpassed what was required of him.
“It was beyond the minimum he had to do to earn his money,” Marler said.
Chastain also recorded theatre, musical and video performances at the university and the Abilene community, and his Centennial work contributed to ACU’s campaign film, The Mission.
Dr. Ed Mathews, professor of missions in the Graduate School of Theology, said Chastain was a close friend.
Chastain and Mathews both ministered at the Central Church of Christ, often ate lunch together and worked on home-repair projects, Mathews said.
“I don’t know that I ever really saw him upset,” Mathews said. “Even when things didn’t seem to be going according to the way he thought they would go.”
Mathews said Chastain often showed him projects he was restoring for the university’s future.
“He took great pride in that,” Mathews said.
Chastain earned his bachelor’s degree from Lipscomb University in 1962 and his master’s degree from ACU in 1982, and he also studied at Florida State University, Harding Graduate School of Religion and the Texas Technical Institute. While at FSU, Chastain served in the Air Force ROTC and was a member of the professional music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha.
After serving more than 20 years as an audio-visual archive preservation specialist and director of the ACU Tape Service, Chastain retired in 2004 but continued to work on projects for the ACU Centennial.
Chastain is survived by his wife, Rita; three brothers, John and Michael, who reside in Nashville, Tenn., and Kenneth, who resides in Atlanta, Ga.; daughter, Carola Martin, who resides in Sweetwater; son, John, who resides Abilene; and eight grandchildren.
Services are Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Elmwood Funeral Home in Abilene.