This week, local business owner Chester Mallory is remembered as a man who started his career in real estate but built his life on helping generations of young Montgomery families.
The longtime civic leader, Alabama State University educator and owner of Mallory Realty died in December. 17 years old, 82 years old. A cause of death was not released, but friends and colleagues say Mallory has been dealing with health issues in recent years. Still, until this year he remained active on local leadership committees, including the Montgomery Airport Authority and the Montgomery City and County Public Library.
“He just kept going,” said Sandra Nickell, a real estate colleague who serves on the airport’s board with Mallory. “He had a servant’s heart.”
People who were influenced by him over the years shared their memories of Mallory after his death, including students and nonprofits.
Mona Taylor-Davis of the Gift of Life Foundation said Mallory serves on the board of the nonprofit, which provides home visits and parenting education to mothers at risk of infant death. Mallory is also a frequent donor and volunteer with the organization, and Taylor-Davis said he was always eager to play Santa for the kids in the program.
At one such event, Taylor-Davis noticed that St. Mallory would give each child a $2 bill. When she asked why, Mallory told her the notes were “uncommon, rare and special”.
“He wanted the kids to know they were special,” she said.
ASU President Quinton Ross praised the former psychology teacher for his decades of impact both in and out of the classroom, noting Mallory’s particular interest in helping young people and underserved families.
Mallory has worked in real estate for 50 years and built a small business in Montgomery that inspired others here. Several former Montgomery Advertisers community heroes described how he helped shape their lives.
“Almost every time you talk to me, I learn something,” Jonathan Avant, president of the Downtown Business Association, wrote on social media. “You’ve made a huge difference in the real estate industry, especially for realtors of color. You’ve left your mark and I know God’s doing a good job telling you this moment.”
Another former community hero, State Farm Insurance Agent Willie Durham, said he still remembers playing minor league football on a Mallory Realty-sponsored team. Decades later, when Durham became chairman of the board of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, he got a call from former Chamber board member Chester Mallory.
“He reached out to me just to tell me how proud he was,” Durham said.
“I often say we’re sitting in the shade of a tree we haven’t planted. Chester Mallory is one of the branches of that tree.”
Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed said in a statement that Mallory first left a legacy of love for his community.
“His name will always be synonymous with success, especially among our city’s Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. However, we will remember him most for his spirit of service, civic pride and financial support of causes that helped advance Montgomery, ’” Reed said in a statement. “Our prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues.”
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.
Brad Harper covers business and local government for the Montgomery Advertiser.contact email@example.com.