My mother, Esther Neustadter, passed away at home on Tuesday, September 1st following a lengthy illness. She took her last breath at 12:45pm. She was 79 years old.
She was born on September 12th, 1929 in Kitchener, Ontario to Henry and Susan Riediger. She grew up with two older siblings, Eric and Ella, and she had two additional siblings that died at birth. She grew up speaking English and German and was fluent in both languages. She worked as a bank teller before she was married, a job she enjoyed.
John and Esther met in 1949, when John, who was from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was visiting relatives in Kitchener, Ontario. They met ice skating in Victoria Park. Although Esther was an excellent ice skater, she made a point to fall down frequently so John could help her up.
After John returned home to Lancaster, John and Esther wrote to each other. John returned to Kitchener for Esther’s sister Ella’s wedding, and John proposed marriage to Esther at Ella’s wedding. John and Esther were married on October 14th, 1950 in the Mennonite Brethren Church in Kitchener, Ontario.
After they were married, John and Esther moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where they purchased a 64 acre farm. Esther’s first child, Tom, was born on January 19th, 1952. In later years, Esther would fondly remember her farm dog Penny, a Saint Bernard, and would recall the tornado that took the roof off of their barn.
In 1952, John and Esther sold their farm and moved to Jamestown, New York, about 60 miles from Niagara Falls. John bred cows for the Curtiss Breeding Company and Esther was a homemaker. Esther’s second child, Laurel, was born on March 9th, 1959.
In 1961, John and Esther moved to Vernon, New York. Once her youngest child was in middle school, Esther started working as a book keeper at a local feed store. She first worked for Don Mower in Vernon Center, and when he went out of business, she went to work as a book keeper for Pohl’s Feedway in Vernon. She worked at Pohl’s until she retired. She enjoyed book keeping and excelled at it.
In November, 2008, Esther and John moved to Dallas, Texas, in order to be closer to their children.
Although she lived in the United States for almost 59 years, Esther remained a Canadian citizen and never became a citizen of the United States.
Esther grew up in the Mennonite faith. In Vernon, she attended the Vernon Baptist church and later became a member of the Oneida United Methodist church.
Esther enjoyed reading mysteries and liked to visit used book stores to look for books. She loved dogs and had a pet dog for most of her married life. While her children were still at home, she enjoyed playing pitch (a card game) with other women once a month. Later, she enjoyed participating in social activities at the Utica Maennerchor Club, a German singing club. Other members always liked to sit at her table, because she was fun to be with and would make sure everyone had a good time. She and John traveled to Germany to visit John’s relatives in the Heidelberg area.
Her favorite holiday was Christmas. She loved buying and wrapping presents. Her children did not understand German, so she and John discussed all Christmas plans in German, in order to keep everything secret until Christmas morning. Christmas morning was always highly anticipated.
Esther’s greatest joy was her home and family. She liked being a homemaker and took pride in a clean and neat house, full of good food. While her children were growing up, vacations were visits to Kitchener or Lancaster to visit relatives. Once her children were grown, she frequently traveled to California and Texas to visit her children and grandchildren. She was happiest when she was with her family.
Here is my Mom and Dad's wedding picture. On October 14th, 2009, they would have been married 59 years.