Cover photo for Alston Sparks Chase's Obituary
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1935 Alston 2022

Alston Sparks Chase

February 15, 1935 — August 19, 2022


Alston Sparks Chase of Livingston, Montana, died August 19, 2022 at Spring Creek Inn, Bozeman, Montana, after a long illness.

Mr. Chase is survived by his wife of 58 years, Diana Ashforth Chase and two children, David Ashforth Godolphin and his wife Jill Marjorie Sandeen, of Concord, Massachusetts, and Thomas Sidney Godolphin and his wife Margaret Aitken Godolphin, of Helena.  Another son, Lawrance Rathbun Godolphin, predeceased him, as did his brother, Richard Conant Chase.  He is also survived by grandson Robin Hart Harris Godolphin and wife Elizabeth Johnson Godolphin, of Onalaska, Wisconsin, and their sons Liam and Odin.  Mr. Chase’s sister, Pamela Chase Hain, and her husband Peter Murray Hain, and sister-in-law Eva Maria Chase, and their children and grandchildren, also survive him.

Mr. Chase was born in Alexandria, Virginia, on February 15, 1935, to Richard Chase, a career Army man who achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel, and Judith Wragg Chase, author, homemaker, and force of nature. After schooling that tracked his father’s military career, including postings in Germany and Denmark, Mr. Chase graduated from high school in Carmel, California.  He went on to earn his A.B. in government at Harvard College.  After serving as a lieutenant in Army Intelligence, he went on to receive a master’s degree in philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE) at University College, Oxford, and a Ph.D. in philosophy at Princeton.

At Princeton, he met a recently widowed third cousin, Diana Godolphin.  They married on June 20, 1964, at the Little Church Around the Corner, New York City, and soon moved for his first academic appointment, at Ohio State University.

Mr. Chase and his family moved to Minnesota in 1969 as he took up a tenured position in the philosophy department at Macalester College in St. Paul. Tiring of academia, Mr. Chase and his wife decamped for Montana in 1975, where he became, briefly, executive director of the Northern Rockies Foundation.  They lived three years on a remote ranch without electricity or non-snowmobile winter access in central Montana, site of their small summer camp for boys and girls.

Best known as an author, Mr. Chase wrote Group Memory (1980), Playing God in Yellowstone (1986), In a Dark Wood (1995), Harvard and the Unabomber (2003) and We Give Our Hearts to Dog to Tear (2008). He wrote for national magazines and was a syndicated columnist, focusing largely on topics of the environment and the West.  He loved hiking and fly-fishing in his beloved Paradise Valley, Montana, often in the company of his equally beloved Jack Russell terriers.

Those wishing to honor Alston Chase’s memory are asked to donate in his name to Stafford Animal Shelter (3 Business Park Rd, Livingston, MT 59047; 406-222-2111).

A memorial in honor of Alston will be held on Thursday, September 15, 2:00 P.M. at the Murray Hotel Lobby, a social gathering will follow the service.

To order memorial trees in memory of Alston Sparks Chase, please visit our tree store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

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