Chester W. True, a former Sacramento housing official and amateur genealogist who uncovered a direct family link to a notorious episode in Colonial American history, died Feb. 7 of pneumonia, his family said. He was 77.
Mr. True retired in 1995 as an administrator for the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency. He joined SHRA in 1984 after 30 years in the Air Force. He rose to the top enlisted rank of chief master sergeant while serving in the United States, the Azores and the Philippines.
After retiring, he traveled many times to his native Salibury, Mass., to explore his family tree. He searched names on cemetery tombstones and spent hours studying property deeds, wills and other records. He published his findings in books that he donated to local libraries.
Mr. True's research revealed that he was a seventh great-grandson of Mary Perkins Bradbury, who arrived from England in 1631 and married a prominent man. In 1692, she and other victims of a mass hysteria were accused of being witches and tried in Salem, Mass.
Despite testimony about her good character from more than 100 witnesses, Bradbury was convicted and sentenced to hang. She later was released, however, and died of natural causes in 1700.
Mr. True and his close relatives "didn't know any of this until he started doing genealogy," said his wife, Julia.
Born Aug. 1, 1935, Mr. True moved with his family and grew up mostly in New Port Richey, Fla. He worked in personnel in the Air Force and earned a bachelor's degree from Union Institute.
He lived in Orangevale. Besides his wife, he is survived by two children from a previous marriage, Thurvia Vieau of South Carolina, and David of Georgia; a stepdaughter, Velinda Ross of Orangevale; sisters, Arlene Ferry and Denise Blanton, both of Sacramento; brothers, Robert, Steven and Herbert, all of Sacramento; two granddaughters; and a step-granddaughter.
A celebration of life will be at 10 a.m. today at Mount Vernon Memorial Park, 8201 Greenback Lane, Fair Oaks. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the McClellan Chiefs Group; for information, call George Moses at (916) 640-8445.