Charles W. Chase, Jr. ("Pete") was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1886 while his parents were in the middle of a theatrical tour. His father, a playwright, and his mother, an actress, traveled throughout the United States during his childhood. Pete traveled with them until the age of 13, when he entered military school, which he attended for six years in Nyack, New York, and in New Hampshire. Later, he moved with his family to Sugarloaf Key, Florida, where his father attempted to start a sponge-growing business. Pete worked for his father at the Florida Keys Sponge & Fruit Company, and eventually started the Chase Tobacco Company, for which he sold sponges, cigars, and automobiles. He entered the navy around April 1917 and initially joined the crew of the U.S.S. Barney , based at the Charleston Navy Yard and, later, in Norfolk, Virginia. He began his career as an ensign and engineering officer, and ended it as a lieutenant onboard the Anniston , again in Charleston. After the war, he worked for various real estate companies and lived in Key West and Miami Beach, Florida. He married Harriet P. Johnson of Key West in October 1913, and the couple had at least one daughter, Sarah.