One of Chadron State College’s most supportive and colorful graduates, Joe Chasteen, died at age 96 at his home in Cheyenne, Wyo., on Tuesday, Aug. 17. His memorial service will be at the Highlands United Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 27.
Although Chasteen was born and raised and lived most of his life in Wyoming, he enrolled at Chadron State after serving in World War II, earned letters in football and basketball and graduated with a degree in education in 1950.
He remained a loyal alumnus of the college all of his life and was still cheering for his great-granddaughter, Ashton Hallsted, when she won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship and was an All-American weight thrower in 2019 while competing for the Eagles.
Born June 8, 1925 to Melvin and Edna Chasteen in Uva, Wyo., Chasteen graduated from Chugwater High School. After serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II, he enrolled at Chadron State.
Chugwater did not have a football team while he was in high school, but Chasteen still joined the Chadron State team in the fall of 1945 when the sport was revived after a two-year hiatus during the war. There were fewer than 20 players on the team.
Fifty years later, Chasteen recalled, “We may have lost all four of our games, but I think we played better than anybody expected. They embraced us like long-lost children. They were glad to see us. It meant things were getting back to normal.”
Chasteen remembered that late in the final game, he called for a fair catch of a punt, but was still run over by a couple of Kearney State players.
“I was dinged pretty good and Coach (Ross) Armstrong came out on the field to check me out. He told me he’d take me out if I wanted him to. But when I looked over on the bench, there wasn’t anyone left who could play. Four other players had already been hurt. I had to stay in.”
Chasteen added that one of his teammates kidded him afterwards that the 15-yard penalty the Eagles got for the unnecessary roughness was his longest gain of the season.
“I think he was right, but I was still glad I played,” he noted.
In the mid-1960s, Chasteen was among the founders of the Purple Passion alumni group made up largely of former Chadron State athletes. The group met 45 times in at least 20 different locations through 2015.
After graduating from Chadron State, Chasteen taught and coached for 13 years before he had an insurance agency in Cheyenne for 40 years. He was on the Albany County and state boards of education about 20 years and served two terms in the Wyoming Legislature.
He later was an agriculture enumerator for the state, collecting data from farmers and ranchers in southeast Wyoming. He was twice nominated for National Enumerator of the Year and received the award when he was 81.
Survivors include his long-time companion, Ginny Phillippi, three daughters, Jody Love of Loveland, Colo., Jacquie Whitney of Wheatland, Wyo., and Jana Erickson of Rock Springs, Wyo., their husbands, three grandsons and eight great-grandchildren. Another of his grandsons, the late Todd Hallsted, was a Chadron State wrestler two years.