Esther Margaret Erickson, 82, longtime Chester area farmwife, died early Monday morning, Dec. 18, 2006, at the Liberty County Hospital in Chester, where she had been a patient for four days.
Her funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Chester. Burial will be at the Chester Cemetery. A luncheon by the Altar Society will follow at the church. Esther was born April 9, 1924, on the Flesch family farm at Browns Valley, Minn., the fourth of nine children born to Edward and Hazel (Jummer) Flesch. The family came to Montana in 1929 to a farm north of Shelby, where Esther grew up. She received her early education at the Flesch country school near the farm, then finished her schooling in Shelby, where she graduated in 1942. Following high school, she met the love of her life, Oscar N. Erickson of south Chester. They were married in Shelby on March 11, 1943, a few days before Oscar left for active military service in the Army during World War II. Following Oscar’s honorable discharge in 1945, they lived and farmed in the south Chester community. In 1957-58, the Erickson’s moved to California, where their daughter, Bonnie, attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. They also resided in Great Falls for several years, so Bonnie could attend Great Falls Central Catholic High School. In their later years, they lived and were active in the Chester community. Oscar died on April 30, 1999, at the age of 76. Esther remained in their Chester home until January of 2004, when she transferred to the Liberty County Nursing Home for treatment of Parkinson’s disease. She lived at the rest home until her recent hospitalization with pneumonia. During her active years, Esther was a dedicated member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Chester. She served as a Sunday school teacher, Eucharistic minister, and member of the Altar Society. For many years, she was an avid duplicate bridge player and achieved the status as life master. She was well-known as an extremely accomplished bridge player; with various bridge partners she often won or placed in many state, regional, and national tournaments. As an opponent at the bridge table, Esther was always very competitive and also highly respected. She enjoyed reading bridge publications and monthly magazines. Other hobbies included art and painting, sewing and embroidery, flower gardening, playing pinochle and collecting antique dishes. Esther loved music and playing the piano, and she taught piano to her grandchildren. In her quiet time at home, she enjoyed reading and watching television her favorite show was “Jeopardy.” Esther dearly loved her family. Esther was preceded in death by her husband; parents; and brothers, Lawrence, Lyle, Joseph, an infant brother and Vernon Flesch. Survivors include her daughter, Bonnie (Keith) Whalen of Chester; grandchildren, Emily (Robert) Gorham of Chester, Erick and Margie Wodarz of the Missoula area, and Ivan Wodarz of Seattle; ex-son-in-law, Roy Wodarz of Havre; brothers, Leo (Rea) Flesch of Shelby and Leroy (Bonnie) Flesch of Brady; sister, Elaine (Ray) Zell of Shelby; special friend, Patsy Seidlitz of Chester; and numerous other relatives and friends. Arrangements are by Rockman Funeral Chapel of Chester.