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Esther Kirk

July 25, 1928 - November 1, 2016
Norton Shores, MI

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Visitations


Sunday, November 6, 2016
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM EST
Central United Methodist Church
1011 Second Street
Muskegon, MI 49440
Web Site

Services


Sunday, November 6, 2016
2:00 PM EST
Central United Methodist Church
1011 Second Street
Muskegon, MI 49440
Web Site

Contributions


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Central United Methodist Church Memorial Fund
1011 Second Street
Muskegon, MI 49440
Web Site

MAP Food Pantry
2500 Jefferson St.
Muskegon, MI 49444

Flowers


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Chalet Floral
700 W. Hackley Ave.
Muskegon, MI 49441
(231) 755-1805
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


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Esther Kirk lived an extraordinary life of perseverance, commitment and dedication. She freely gave of her time, her resources, and her knowledge when it came to helping others. Falling in love with children, she spent a majority of her life either raising them, nurturing them, or guiding them to their truest passions in life. Esther’s sweet and charming personality made her a natural people person where others were made to feel lifted up in her presence. Her caring demeanor and warm nature will be her gift to all who knew her. Esther’s wonderful collection of memories will be cherished for generations to come.

During an era that saw the large-scale boom of automobiles, telephones and motion pictures, as well as unprecedented industrial growth and significant changes in our nation’s culture, Hisakichi "Ed" and Takayo (Takami) Nishi, immigrants from Japan, welcomed home their beautiful newborn daughter, Esther, on July 25, 1928 in Granger, Washington. Esther was the ninth of eleven children born to a farmer and a homemaker growing up in Yakima Valley on the eastern side of the state of Washington. Her parents were hard workers who modeled for their children the courage and the grit to make it in America. Although she grew up during tough economic times, the family never wanted for anything and always seemed to have enough.

Her father’s watermelon crop was well known in the farming community and each of the children were expected to help out on the family farm. The girls mostly tended to the traditional roles of sewing, cooking or housekeeping. On occasion, Esther pitched in doing work in the fields, yet it was a task which she did not much prefer. During the tumultuous times of WWII, her family was forced to live in internment camps due to their Japanese heritage. They spent many of these years in camps in both Portland, Oregon and Heart Mountain, Wyoming. Away from the farm, they relied on the help of good neighbors to keep the crops growing in their absence. When the war was over, they happily returned and were successful there for many years. Extraordinary to note, the farm continues to prosper in the hands of family members to this day.

Esther completed her high school career in Oregon in the year 1945. Shortly after graduation, she moved to Baltimore, Maryland to live with her older sister, Masa. While there, she worked for a short time as a stenographer at an insurance company before enrolling in Adrian College in Michigan. A hard worker, Esther worked and paid her way through college by managing a position at the registrar's office, babysitting and even taking in laundry. She was committed to her success and graduated with the Class of 1950 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education. Not to be forgotten was the day she met her forever partner and husband of sixty four years; Dick Kirk. They were introduced by Norma, Esther’s college roommate, as Dick was Norma’s brother. The two of them hit it off and it wasn’t long into their courtship that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. The happy couple were wed on November 22, 1950 and together they raised three wonderful children; Sandy, Colleen and Brian.

Esther lived her life to the fullest. Her lifelong career of working with children began teaching school in Deerfield and Monroe, Michigan. Later, while teaching in Muskegon, she earned her Masters in school counseling commuting to and from Western Michigan University. Esther’s remaining twenty years in the schools was as a dedicated guidance counselor with Mona Shores Public Schools where both the students and the staff remember her as a professional life changer. She was always working above and beyond to ensure the success of each and every student. As an active member of Central United Methodist Church, Esther especially enjoyed working with young people, teaching Sunday school and mentoring confirmads. Remarkably giving, Esther volunteered her time and talents at Kitchen of Hope, the Christian Community Center, and the MAP Food Pantry. She was never one to stay away from students for too long after she retired. To keep herself involved with children, she enjoyed mentoring students at McLaughlin School. Sewing all of her own clothes as a young girl, she tapped into this resource by sewing quilts for Poppen House. During her lifetime, Esther treasured traveling and camping with friends and family. She was an avid reader, always one to seek new knowledge or keep her mind active. For fitness, as well as relaxation, she practiced Tai Chi. Above all, she cherished time spent with her beautiful family and was always happy to play a game or bake cookies with her grandchildren. Esther’s grace and compassion was revealed when she tenderly cared for her husband Dick during his twelve year battle with Alzheimer’s. Her steadfast love and commitment during his last days was inspiring to all who knew her. Described as sweet and generous beyond measure, Esther will be deeply missed.

Esther Kirk, age 88, died at home in the early morning of November 1, 2016. Esther leaves behind her children, Sandy Carlson, Colleen (Gary) McConnell and Brian Kirk; her grandchildren, Julie (Paul Blanding) Carlson, Andrew Carlson, Ian McConnell, Justin Carlson, and Jeffrey Carlson; and great grandchildren, Christopher Carlson, Ramona Blanding and Xia Blanding. She was preceded in death by her husband, Richard Kirk; her parents, Hisakichi and Takayo Nishi; her brothers, Sam, Goro, Yoe, Shiro "Ed", Jesse, Roy, and Hichiro "Don" Nishi; her sisters, Alice Waters and Masako Matsunaga; and her grandson, Colin McConnell. Service is planned for Sunday, November 6, 2016, at 2:00 pm with visitation one hour prior to the service at Central United Methodist Church with Rev. Mark D. Miller officiating. Interment in Central United Methodist Church Columbarium. Memorial contributions may be made to Central United Methodist Church Memorial Fund or MAP Food Pantry.

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