ALBANY -- Longtime Hotsy Totsy bartender Chester "The Duke" Anderson died Jan. 1 following several illnesses. He was 76.
Anderson was a bartender at the Hotsy Totsy for 20 years and worked at several East Bay watering holes during a 52-year career mixing drinks. Hotsy Totsy owner Michael Valladeres purchased the bar four years ago. When meeting with the prior owner at the bar, Valladeres was taken aside by Anderson.
"He asked me to come outside and without any fear or sense of humor he said, 'I come with the bar,'" Valladeres recalled.
Indeed, he did.
"He is the type of man who isn't really out there anymore," Valladeres said. "He was an old-world guy, kind of rough around the edges, but not macho. He would share anything with you. I've always said, if you're drinking and the sun is outside, you want a bartender like Chet."
Matthew Anderson said his father got his first bartending job after he tried flipping pizzas. Chester Anderson always dressed properly and worked at the Hotsy Totsy until two months ago when his health forced him to take a leave.
"He was 76, he's still lifting kegs," Matthew Anderson said.
Anderson's life was the bar, according to his son. He didn't have many hobbies.
"After he got older, he had a very set routine," Matthew Anderson said. "Everybody knew it. He drove his seven miles to work, he went home to his wife Luann and they'd stay home or they'd go to one restaurant -- Du Rose in Pinole."
Anderson enjoyed golfing -- his father took him to Franklin Canyon Golf Course in Hercules on the day it opened and Anderson continued to play the course the rest of his life. He would take one vacation a year to Sedona, Ariz., where he would spend time golfing with friends.
Anderson himself quit drinking in 1987, but continued to work as a bartender.
"He told so many stories that you could never imagine being true if you met him now," Valladeres said. "He had been sober 27 years but prior to that, he was a wild guy. He always had a chuckle about it all."
Valladeres said Anderson would go out of his way to do things for the rest of the staff.
"He'd have little tuna sandwiches that he made at home at 4:30 in the morning before coming to work, wrapped in foil with their names on it," he said.
Anderson was a reason to go to the Hotsy Totsy, attracting a diverse clientele.
"His crowd was every walk of life, every lifestyle," Valladeres said. "You don't see that kind of diversity in modern hip clubs, much less in old World War II bars. He had every stripe you could imagine all hanging out together, political distinctions be damned -- so much of it due directly to that man. The people he attracted had a tendency to be kind, accepting, witty and playful. And I think I just described Chet."
Anderson suffered from lung cancer and had recently finished radiation treatments. However, he underwent three surgeries for a hernia and it was a couple of days after his last one that he passed away. He is survived by his wife Luann Anderson, who also is suffering from cancer.
He is also survived by four children -- Matthew Anderson, Steven Anderson, Stacy Carson and Kris Gray; three grandchildren -- Kacy Carson, Shae Carson and Colton Gray; and a sister -- Carol Munoz.
A remembrance will be held at the Hotsy Totsy, 601 San Pablo Ave., from 4 to 7 p.m. on Jan. 19.