Thoughts from Michael Brandt

by Staff
J. Michael Brandt was the Simms family attorney and wrote this letter in 2006 for Chester's Star Celebration dedication.
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I first met Chester at Irving Philip’s office, early in the year 1949. Our office was at 271 Madison Avenue. Chester had been introduced to Mr. Philips by Eddie Arcaro.

Chester was the type of individual to who the expression “to know him is to love him” applied, and it was easy for me to deeply care for him and his family, from the time we first met.

Our office started helping him with this taxes, but my relationship with Chester and his family became more personal than business.

From time to time, some of our clients and friends became interested in going to Las Vegas, and whenever we asked him to accommodate someone, he never refused. As a matter of fact, one of our clients was seeking a Nevada divorce, and he helped her set up the necessary residence requirements, and he even looked out for her safety.

My first visit to Las Vegas was in December, 1952. During such visit, I spent a lot of time with Chester, and he explained the workings of a Casino, and afforded me with all the luxuries that the Flamingo offered. At that time and other times he told me stories about the Hotel Nationale in Havana, Cuba, of which he was the Casino Manager.

Chester, Marie and Douglas had been in Cuba before and during the revolution. Chester told me how the revolutionaries, including Fidel Castro, we bedraggled and hungry, and that they would occasionally go to the Nationale looking for food. Chester always ordered the kitchen help to help feed Castro and his rebels.

After Castro took power in Cuba, Chester became the first Casino Manager for the Flamingo. He had always been good to the people who worked for him, and they usually were loyal to him. He therefore arranged for many of the casino employees at the Nationale to come to Las Vegas to work at the Flamingo. These employees were among the best at the Flamingo, and were very loyal to and fond of Chester.

I remember asking one of the dealers at the Flamingo, as to the relationship of Chester to the other owners and executives, and his statement was “he is the big boss here.” As a matter of fact, during my many visits to Las Vegas, I found that he seemed to be involved with every facet of the operation of the Flamingo. When he was “on the floor” he worked into the wee hours of the morning, had a few hours of sleep, and many afternoons he went back to work to care of various administration matters.

During my various visits to Las Vegas, I would sit with Chester at his perch near the crap tables. He was always attuned to everything that was going on. His customers always seemed to come by to talk with him, and occasionally when they had lost all their money, they came to him asking for help. He made it a rule, then when they had lost as much as they could afford, that he would not allow them to gamble any more, but that he would comp them for meals and transportation. Although some of these people may have been mad at the time, they always thanked him for his decision.

Chester was one of a kind and I miss him.


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