Leonard James 'Jim' Chant BSc(Eng) CEng MIET, December 1927-June 2017

26 June 2017
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Leonard James 'Jim' Chant

Obituary provided by Philip Chant.

Leonard James ‘Jim’ Chant, aged 89, died peacefully at home on Thursday, 15 June 2017, surrounded by his loving family. Born in Lewisham, a town in southeast London, England, he was the son of the late Sidney and Doris (Barnes) Chant.  


In 1937 homes in Lewisham were being wired for electricity. Jim observed the electricians at work, and when all the work was completed and the lights switched on, Jim knew at that moment what he wanted to do with his life. 


At the onset of World War Two, when Jim was 11 years old, he earned a merit scholarship to attend Bancroft’s School, a boarding school for boys. Had the war not ended, Jim would have joined the Royal Air Force at 17. It did end, however, so Jim could continue his education. He earned a BSc in Electrical Engineering from the University of London in 1949, the first in his family to attend a university. Jim was a Chartered Professional Engineer. He was the founder and CEO of Chant Engineering Co., Inc. For eight years he was also the US Representative of the Institution of Engineering and Technology.


In 1959 Jim was recruited to be part of the nascent US space programme. He and his wife Barbara, with their growing family, emigrated to the USA on the ocean liner Hanseatic. The family first settled in New Jersey before moving a few years later to Pennsylvania. Jim was one of the designers of the human centrifuge at the Johnsville Naval Air Station, where astronauts Alan Shepard and John Glenn, part of the renowned ‘Mercury Seven’, trained for the early 1960’s Mercury Space Missions.


After working for other engineering companies, Jim founded L. J. Chant and Associates in 1970 in the basement of his Hatboro home. This company later became Chant Engineering Co., Inc., from where he just recently retired. A serial entrepreneur and developer, Jim was always involved in something and constantly seeking his next project. 


Involved with New Britain Borough for over 20 years, Jim and Barbara recently donated land to expand the nature preserve there. In recognition of this, the Borough has named this section of the nature preserve Chant’s Woods.


He leaves behind his beloved wife Barbara after 65 years of marriage, children Steven (Kaoru), Peter, Michael, Philip (Lori) Chant and Christine (Rob) Schuyler, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandson.


Jim touched many lives; he was intelligent, pragmatic, generous, confident, wise, caring, a willing advocate for others, and went out of his way to support the endeavours of others without judgement. He expected the best from individuals, businesses and government. Unlike most of us, when he found a problem, he would take the initiative to address it including private chats, finding and talking to managers, phone calls to CEOs, and writing letters to Government officials, congressmen, even the President. In these discussions, Jim often got results as he was always a gentleman, never argued, and treated everyone with respect. He honoured his word, and expected others to do the same. He believed in the innate goodness in people, and maintained a positive outlook and attitude throughout his life. Husband, father, mentor, friend, he will be greatly missed.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the New Britain Food Larder in care of the New Britain Baptist Church. There will be a gathering, a celebration of life, at the Chapel in Beulah Cemetery, New Britain, PA.