'Chet' Sidell leaves lasting impact in Lawrence
by Zoe Mathews, Eagle Tribune
Chester "Chet" Sidell saw potential in Lawrence, at a time when not many outsiders were looking at the city as a place of great opportunity and growth.
Sidell, apparel manufacturer and real estate developer, died last week at the age of 77. He had staked out a business for himself and his family in Lawrence, and had amassed a network of partners — and friends — he cared deeply about.
Sidell was born in Dorchester and started his family in Framingham, but at the urging of a contractor in Lawrence, Sidell started KGR Inc., a womenswear company, named after his three children Kara, Gary and Randy.
He eventually took a space in the Pacific Mills, and began buying properties and fixing them up for business use.
In the 1980s and 1990s, a string of fires left Lawrence with an unfortunate reputation as the arson capital of the country. Sidell looked past that moniker and saw the city for what it was: a hub of opportunity.
And as his business grew, he began building a philanthropic mission, using his successes to bring others up as well.
The list of Sidell's investments in the city is long: Groundwork Lawrence, Lawrence Community Works, Essex Art Center, Lawrence History Center, Lawrence Heritage State Park, North Canal Coalition, to name a few.
"Those places either started, or continue to be able to do work because of his investments," said McMann. "He was an amazing mentor and friend, always there to support you but also challenge you to think bigger and more strategically."