OXFORD, Miss. – Chester L. Quarles, of Tula, a longtime University of Mississippi educator and respected international criminal justice expert, died Thursday (Oct. 31) at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. He was 69.
A UM criminal justice professor emeritus, Quarles wrote extensively on school safety and worked with administrators and law enforcement officials to develop a broad alert system that notifies students, faculty and staff of dangerous situations on campus. He was associated with Crisis Consulting International.
An internationally-recognized authority on terrorism, kidnapping and guerilla assault, he taught bodyguards of TV stars, government officials, industry CEOs, missionaries and humanitarian workers throughout the world how to avoid and survive terrorist attacks.
Firm in his religious convictions, Quarles chaired the deacon board of Tula Baptist Church, which he attended with his family for many years.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 3) at North Oxford Baptist Church. Interment will be in the Tula Cemetery. Visitation is scheduled for 5-8 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 2) at Coleman Funeral Home in Oxford.
UM faculty, administrators and alumni are grieving the loss of their beloved former colleague, mentor and friend.
“Dr. Quarles was always a committed and passionate professor, especially when it came to the Department of Legal Studies,” said Jan Bounds, associate dean for UM’s School of Applied Sciences and associate professor of legal studies. “He was a very outspoken individual who related his views in a positive way. His contributions to and support of the department will certainly be missed.”
Author Merle Temple of Tupelo, who met Quarles as a student in one of his criminal justice classes while earning an undergraduate degree at Ole Miss, shared his memories of the man who exemplified the motto “protect and serve.”
“Chester was the definition of the word ‘friend,’” Temple said. “I can’t count the number of times he came to my aid. Through the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, he was always there for me.”
The first captain the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (a position which Quarles helped him obtain), Temple said his mentor saw him through tumultuous times within the agency. One of the characters in “A Ghostly Shade of Pale” (a new novel by Temple) is based on Quarles, he said.
“Chester always saw that justice was done,” Temple said. “Sometimes he did things that weren’t proper, but they were the right things to do. He had no hidden agendas and played no games. What you saw was what you got with him.”
A deeply committed Christian, Quarles saw his work as more than a profession and career, Temple said.
“Chester knew he had a higher calling, and that was to give people a second chance at life,” he said. “During his many visits to Parchman penitentiary, he befriended and reached inmates few others could. He even took one ex-convict into his own home after he was released. That was typical of Chester.”
Quarles helped negotiate the release of two missionaries taken hostage near Cali, Colombia in 1989. Instead of an armed-rescue attempt by the local police, Quarles suggested negotiation, and the hostages went free after 68 days.
“It may seem James Bondish, but in reality it’s all basic police work on an international scale,” Quarles said in an article about his work in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Fellow church member Tommy Edwards of Oxford fondly remembered his friend of more than 25 years.
“Chester was a very likable person,” Edwards said. “We met first shortly after we both began working at the university. He later became chair of the deacon board at Tula Baptist Church, which we both faithfully attended with our families for years.”
Edwards described Quarles as a “man who loved life” and a gifted inspirational orator.
“When Chester would laugh, you could hear him a mile away,” he said. “He always had a great time wherever he was. For him not to have been a preacher, he was one of the greatest speakers I ever heard.”
Retired clergyman Charles “Chuck” Fowler of Oxford, Quarles’ pastor for many years, voiced similar memories of him.
“If Dr. Quarles told you something, you could bank on it,” Fowler said. “He was a devout Christian, morally sound and family-oriented.”
Quarles received his doctorate from Sam Houston State University, master’s from UM and bachelor’s degree from Florida State University. He served as a U.S. Army Military Police criminal investigator, a Mississippi Department of Public Safety criminal investigator, manager of the Mississippi Crime Laboratory and director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. Quarles was a Certified Protection Professional, a Certified Protection Officer, a Certified International Investigator and a fellow in the Institute of Professional Investigators.
A world traveler, Quarles consulted non-governmental organizations insofar as crime and terrorism is concerned in Brazil, Colombia, Cameroon, Ecuador, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru and the Philippines. He published some 29 crime prevention articles and has a publishing record of 81 articles, six sole-authored books and four co-authored books. His field and scholarly contributions are in the areas of policing, crime prevention, terrorism, and school, house of worship and workplace safety.
Renowned for his expertise in school safety, Quarles was featured in numerous media stories, and national media often sought him as an expert source for reports on school violence.
He joined the UM faculty in 1968, retiring in 2008. Quarles was awarded the 2004 Thomas A. Crowe Award in the UM School of Applied Sciences for exemplary teaching, scholarship and service.
Quarles is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Dorothy “Dot” Quarles of Oxford; four sons, Michael Quarles and Steve Quarles, both of Oxford, Chuck Quarles of Wake Forrest, N.C. and Mark Quarles of Madison; a daughter, Kathy Baker of Banner; his mother, Virginia Quarles of Clinton; two sisters, Mary Virginia Quarles of Wausau, Wis., and Grace Quarles of Clinton; 14 grandchildren; and 1 great-grandchild.
Memorials can be made to Wycliffe Bible Translators, P.O. Box 628200, Orlando, FL 32862-8200.