LINWOOD — When Chester Ogden served in the Navy during World War II, he was stationed on submarines that were built for World War I.
“Now, you can just push a button,” Tom Innocente, 75, said about operating the undersea military vessels. “Back then, it was all valves and cranks. We loved talking about his experiences with that and the war.”
Innocente, commander of the Egg Harbor Township Submarine Veterans, was one of many mourners who attended Ogden’s funeral Saturday morning. Ogden, a veteran of World War II, an educator, superintendent of Ventnor public schools, volunteer and lover of nature, died Tuesday at 94.
“He was our brother,” Innocente said, explaining Ogden was a member of the elite Holland Club, qualifying by knowing the ins and outs of all of the systems on a submarine. There are currently only 12,000 qualified nationwide, he said.
Ogden served on the USS Cabezon. Launched in 1944, it conducted its first war patrol from May 25 to July 11, 1945, in the Sea of Okhotsk, sinking a 2,631-ton Japanese cargo vessel June 19. He received the Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic Pacific Medal, Victory Medal, Submarine Combat Insignia and American Theater Medal.
After returning to the U.S., Ogden became a teacher, and went on to become the superintendent of Ventnor Public Schools until 1980.
“I was a kid back then,” Ventnor police Chief Doug Biagi said. “As a kid, I remember him being our superintendent and not knowing what he did, but now, being vice president of the school board, I know what an important job that is.”
Ogden was responsible for “everything that happens in the district,” said Dennis Kelly, 78, and he was “terrific” at working to benefit the students.
Kelly worked as a teacher under Ogden before going on to become superintendent after Ogden retired.
“He was supportive of everything that we wanted to do, both financially and personally,” Kelly said. “We always worked together for the benefit of the children. That was one of his main thoughts in life, the children.”
While he was in charge, Ogden oversaw construction of the city’s elementary school on Lafayette Avenue.
“The thing that impressed me more than anything was during the war, being in a submarine,” Kelly said. “I always laughed with him and said, ’I couldn’t imagine doing that myself.’ That tells you a lot about the kind of person he was.”
Ogden leaves behind many friends and family members, among them Christopher Dennis, who said his grandfather was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed nature photography.
Ogden even bought a small island in Canada in the late 1960s where the family would visit and could drink straight from the fresh water that surrounded it, he said.
Volunteering was important to Ogden, Dennis said. His grandfather would cuddle babies who were born addicted to drugs at what was then Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point. Ogden also taught Sunday school.
“He knew that the point of service was to do it because it was the right thing to do,” Dennis said. “He’s just an amazing, beautiful person.”