James William Chesebro

June 24, 1944 ~ January 21, 2020 (age 75) 75 Years Old


TERRE HAUTE – James William Chesebro passed away, Tuesday, January 21, 2020 in Union Hospital following a brief illness.  He was born James William Nelson on June 24, 1944 to James Joseph Nelson and Jeanette Mary Campell in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Jim later changed his last name to Chesebro after his stepfather, Floyd Chesebro. 

Dr. Chesebro received his BA at the University of Minnesota in 1966, his MS at the University of Illinois in 1967 and his PhD at the University of Minnesota in 1972.  He taught at Temple University in Philadelphia from 1972 until 1981.  While in Philadelphia he met the love of his life, Donald G. Bonsall.  They were together for 38 years and were married on October 23, 2013 in Cumberland, Maryland. 

After teaching at Queens College and serving as Director of Education Services at the National Office of the National Communication Association in Annandale, Virginia, Dr. Chesebro accepted a position as Chairperson and Professor of Communication at Indiana State University in 1992.  In 2005 Dr. Chesebro joined the faculty at Ball State University as Distinguished Professor of Telecommunications and served in that position until his retirement in 2012. 

Dr. Chesebro was a giant in the discipline of Communication and was the recipient of numerous awards for his scholarship, service, and teaching.  He was elected President of the National Communication Association in 1996.  Although he was author of numerous books, over 100 scholarly articles and book chapters, and took part in over 350 convention panels, he was most proud of his work in two areas:  providing a voice to under-represented groups in the field of Communication, and his influence on the students he taught.  His advocacy for women and minority groups was legendary.  He also served as a mentor to many of his students and was honored by their recognition of his pivotal importance in their own successful careers. 

In his spare time Dr. Chesebro enjoyed genealogy and ran an antique business with his spouse.  He was preceded in death by his parents and stepfather.  He is survived by his spouse, Donald G. Bonsall, his father and mother-in-law, Donald L. and Nancy J. (Bahl) Bonsall, and his brothers –in-law, Daniel J. Bonsall (Lorraine Hopson) and  Dennis E. Bonsall (Diane Soreneson) and their children.  He was deeply loved and will be truly missed by his family, and his many friends and colleagues around the nation.

Cremation was chosen.  A celebration of his life will be held at Greiner Funeral Home, 2005 North 13th Street, Terre Haute, IN 47804 on Saturday, February 1, 2020.  Visitation will be from 2 pm to 4 pm with a brief ceremony at 3:30 pm.  A reception will follow.  In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be to the Terre Haute Humane Society.  Online condolences can be made at:



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Celebration of Life
February 1, 2020

2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Greiner Funeral Home and Cremation Service
2005 North 13th Street
Terre Haute, IN 47804


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