Tax Manager Curtis L. Chesley, CPA Retires

In October of 1999, the world was strikingly different. The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers were still gleaming above NYC and businesses worldwide were frantically patching computer code to prepare for the Y2K bug. There was an air of excitement as the new millennium was just about to be born. For Schmidt Westergard, it was a special year as we welcomed Curtis Chesley to the firm. As a valued manager in our accounting services and tax department for over 21 years, Curtis has decided to retire from accounting effective the end of October.

He shared his thoughts with us about his years at Schmidt Westergard and his plans for retirement.

What Do You Like Best About Being a Tax Accountant?

I have to say, I most enjoy consulting with clients regarding their tax and business issues.  It’s engaging to answer their questions and work on strategies to help keep their tax liabilities as low as possible and to prevent clients from having compliance issues. I enjoy the variety that the job provides. No two days are ever alike, which keeps life from being boring. 

While it is hard work and often long hours, I have always found that helping clients, and by doing so making the firm grow, to be immensely gratifying. 

What’s the most important quality you bring to your role?

It really boils down to dedication. Dedication to our clients, dedication to the firm, and dedication to our profession makes all the difference.  It is all about having a professional ethic about service. We help guide our clients through difficult situations.

It is simple, really. We are here for them (the clients), not just putting in hours to fill a time sheet.  We are here to get a good result for our clients and for the firm. This is especially true during tax season. A consistent truth for all tax professionals is that we must get the work done regardless. It is particularly challenging due to the compressed deadlines and the constant changes in tax laws. But the work always gets done on deadline.

What is one of your proudest professional achievements?

Passing the CPA exam on the first try. Yes, it is true. I took the exam after graduating college but prior to entering into public accounting. The testing took place at the convention center. The facility was filled with row after row of 8 foot tables end to end. I sat for three days in that room with at least a few thousand other people and passed all the parts of the exam. Only afterward did I learn how uncommon it was to pass it all on the first attempt.

What inspires you?

Oh, that is easy. I am always inspired by people who do selfless acts for others. People who spend their time and effort serving for the benefit of others, without expectation of getting something out of it for themselves are truly inspiring.  This is what makes ordinary people extraordinary, and makes life good.

What do you plan for retirement?

I have a number of projects planned. I am really looking forward to having the time to do what I could never do during the tax season. I love outdoor activities: Hiking, biking, camping, fishing and shooting; just enjoying the great weather during the spring and fall. I actually enjoy yard work too.

I also like spending time woodworking, building larger projects like cabinets and furniture. Then again, I expect to continue volunteering at the church and in the community. My volunteer work is varied; everything from helping a neighbor with a chore or responding when someone calls needing help moving or fixing something. Of course, it could also be a call from the church to help cleaning or teaching a class.

What about moonlighting in tax work?

I think I will be taking a hard break from accounting. It is too difficult to stay proficient when involved in a temporary manner.

On behalf of James Schmidt, Lynn Westergard and the entire team, we wish Curtis a long and healthy retirement.