Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Esther Moses, it is easy to see that her faith was the cornerstone on which her life was built. She was never overbearing or boisterous in her faith, but she exemplified what it means to be the hands and feet of the Lord she loved by the way she lived her life every day. Esther’s love for her family was easy to see, and she was happiest when she was surrounded by their love. She faced trials at times, but she faced whatever came her way with both strength and courage that were truly inspirational. Deeply loved, Esther will be forever missed.
The 1930s were primarily defined by the Great Depression that covered our nation and much of the world throughout the entire decade. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and nearly every American family felt the strain. Despite the trials around them, Fred and Laura (Runnals) Moses were able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their own lives as they were anticipating the birth of their new baby as July unfolded during the summer of 1932 in Tilton, New Hampshire. The big day finally arrived when the baby girl they named Esther Louise drew her first breath on July 23rd. As the youngest of seven girls in the Moses clan, she was raised in the family home alongside her sisters, Florence, Agnes, Ruth, Arlene, Madalene, and Eleanore. Her father was a dairy farmer, which meant that Esther grew up on the farm with her fair share of farm chores. She raised a cow she named White Foot for the 4-H club when she was a teenager.
In many ways Esther was a young girl of her generation. She attended local schools and could often be found out studying in the hills behind the farm to get away from all the hustle and bustle around the house. During the summertime, Esther worked at the nearby Indianhead Resort. She started out cleaning cabins there and later moved up to waiting tables. The money Esther earned through this work was saved to help pay for college. She had big dreams of becoming a teacher from the time she was a young girl who played teacher with her dolls. Always strong in her faith, Esther walked several miles into town from the resort every Sunday to attend church. She usually had lunch with the minister’s family after church and then walked back.
After being blessed with several good teachers who inspired and mentored her along the way, Esther attended New Hampshire Teachers College after graduating from high school. After a year there, she transferred to Wheaton College in Illinois where she received her degree. She worked in the cafeteria while at Wheaton to help pay for expenses. During this time Esther was engaged to two different men. Sadly, the first one died in a plane crash, and after realizing that her religious values didn’t line up with his Esther called off the second engagement.
With her college education behind her, Esther moved to Muskegon, Michigan, because that is where a friend from college was from. She soon found a job as a teacher with Muskegon Heights Schools. After a few years Esther took an elementary teaching position with Mona Shore Public Schools. She went on to teach at Mona Beach School, Campbell, Lincoln, and Hile School, primarily fourth and fifth grades. Esther was always one of the teachers the parents wanted their children to have, and she kept in contact with many of her students for years after they were in her class.
There was never anything that was of greater importance to Esther than her faith. She joined Calvary Baptist Church soon after coming to Muskegon. Over the years she was very active there and taught Sunday school for over 40 years, and she also served as the superintendent of the Sunday school. It was at Calvary Baptist that she met Maxine Williams. The two women became very close friends and considered themselves sisters. They soon moved in together, and they spent the remainder of their lives living together. During the late 1960s, Esther and Maxine began caring for an eight year old girl named Kathy Rogers whose single mother became ill after a stroke. When Kathy’s mother died in 1969, Kathy began permanently living with Esther and Maxine. It took three long years and several hard-fought legal battles, but in the end Esther and Maxine were allowed to legally become Kathy’s guardians, making Esther one of the first single women to be granted custody and then allowed to adopt a child in Michigan. Both Esther and Maxine were wonderfully supportive mothers who were actively involved in all aspects of Kathy’s life. They enjoyed regular trips out East to visit Esther’s family and hometown, making amazing memories in the process.
Always one to be busy, Esther was a woman of many interests. She loved spending time baking in the kitchen, which was something her family appreciated as everything she made was fantastic. Esther enjoyed gardening and grew both flowers and vegetables. Much of what Esther grew she canned. As a dog lover, Esther had a number of beautiful Shelties through the years. She was filled with unspeakable joy to become a grandmother, and she was great at helping them with their schoolwork. Baking together was another favorite activity that Esther shared with her grandchildren.
Later in life Esther and Maxine both started developing Alzheimer’s disease. They both moved into Seminole Shores Care Center where they enjoyed becoming part of their new community. In 2013, Esther was deeply saddened with Maxine’s death, but she continued on.
All who knew Esther Moses would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She was deeply devoted to her community, and there were so many who were blessed by her touch. Esther treasured her family, and she savored every moment they had to spend together. Esther will never be forgotten.
Esther Moses passed away Tuesday, December 13, 2016. Esther’s family includes her daughter, Kathryn (Randy) Ortquist; grandchildren, Pamela Jean Schaub, Chelsey Lee Ortquist, Randy Lee Ortquist; sister, Eleanor Wagner. Esther was preceded in death by her parents; sisters, Maxine Williams, Florence McCarthy, Agnes Baptist, Ruth Doyle, Arlene TenDyke, Madalene Ohman. Services will be held on Saturday, December 17, 2016, 10:30 a.m. with visitation one hour prior at Clock Chapel - Muskegon with Rev. Eric Strattan officiating. Interment in Lakeside Cemetery.