Chester J. Diez, Jr. Receives Republican Lifetime Achievement Award

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Chester J. Diez, Jr. (seated) and with his wife, Penny, receives the 1st Ascension Republican Lifetime Achievement Award from Ascension Assessor, M. J. "Mert" Smiley, Jr.(left), Joyce LaCour representing Ascension Republican Women and Kathryn Goppelt (r), Ascension Republican Parish Executive Committee Chairman.T he event took place on July 10th at the Schoolhouse of The Cabin Restaurant.

On July 10th, at an event co-sponsored by the Ascension Republican Parish Executive Committee and Ascension Republican Women, Chester J. Diez, Jr.,  prominent Ascension businessman, ardent supporter of  community endeavors and a major force in helping to make Louisiana a 2-party state by increasing Ascension membership in the Republican Party, was honored for his lifetime achievements on many levels.

Diez, who switched his registration to Republican in 1972, when it is believed there were less than 50 registered Republicans in Ascension Parish at the time, worked tirelessly over 4 decades to build recognition and membership in that Party.  

When he ran for LA State Senate in 1975, the first Republican candidate in Ascension since Reconstruction, he received 7059 votes and finished second in the heavily Democratic district. 

As part of his candidate announcement, Diez wrote, “Like a lot of people that I know, I was a “Democratic Republican” long before I became a registered Republican.  So, the question becomes, why did I register as such.  After much thought, I decided that my token effort of attempting to make this a 2-party state and helping to establish a trend to more Conservatism and less Liberalism, was worth more to me than voting in the Democrat Primaries.  It was just that simple.”

In 1979, Chester Diez was active in the successful Dave Treen for Governor effort. He was a leader with the Ascension RPEC in the late 80’s and through the 90’s.

Recognizing that the mood, if not the actual demographics, were changing, he personally sponsored and funded the successful “Switch in 96” voter registration campaign to increase Republican registration in Ascension Parish.  He mailed an appeal with voter registration cards to registered Democrats and Independents in the 70769 zip code, requesting that they switch parties.

 In the 1990’s, Diez started a “Conservative Roundtable” which met for an informal lunch once a month to encourage residents of like mind to become more involved in the local, state and national political process.

Diez founded and built Southwest Computer Bureau (SCBI) into a multi-million dollar enterprise.  He also founded other successful businesses including  Campaign Opinions and Research, Industrial Support Systems, Inc., C. Diez Rentals, Tempco Employment Agency, TMC Contractors and Acadian waste Services. 

He was a founding member of the Ascension Fund and the Ascension Economic Development Corporation.  In addition, he supported and raised funds for both incarnations of community theatre in Ascension, the Gonzales Little Theater and the current, Ascension Community Theatre. Diez had a role in ACT’s debut production in 1999. 

The idea to recognize Diez for his achievements in the Republican Party, business and the community came from Ascension Assessor, M. J. “Mert” Smiley, Jr.   In February, Smiley approached the Ascension RPEC and Ascension Republican Women with the idea.  Both groups were enthusiastic. 

The RPEC was planning a Legislative Wrap-up with Rep. Eddie Lambert and Senator Jody Amedee and it seemed the perfect venue for the presentation.  Smiley, who emceed the event, selected speakers and created a plaque, including both Republican organizations, to present to Chester Diez, Jr.

Meanwhile Alvin Robert, Vice Chairman of the RPEC formed a committee to put together the format and dinner for the event, which was held at the Schoolhouse building of The Cabin Restaurant.

Speakers included, John “Juba” Diez, brother of the honoree, son, Jeff Diez,  LAGOP Chariman, Roger Villere, Ascension RPEC Chairman, Kathryn Goppelt and Joyce LaCour, representing ARW.  

Letters of recognition were presented by Anthony Ramirez, representing Governor Bobby Jindal, Andree Miller, representing Senator David Vitter and Brian P. McNabb, representing Congressman Bill Cassidy.  Senator Jody Amedee presented a joint resolution from the Louisiana House and Senate recognizing Diez’s many accomplishments.

Many Diez family members and friends attended the event, including, Chester’s wife Penny, 7 of his nine children, Chester’s  brothers and sisters and many others. 

Following the ceremonies honoring Diez, Senator Amedee and Rep. Lambert gave a Legislative review from the 2014 session.