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Esther Garrity

September 14, 2020

Due to the global pandemic, the family is holding a private service.


Boulger Funeral Home

Esther Garrity

September 14, 2020


Esther Garrity, 96 years old, died September 14, 2020, of congestive heart failure.

Esther was raised on the Minnesota Iron Range, graduated from Moorhead State Teachers College, and taught English at Moorhead High. She met her husband, James E Garrity, on a blind date. Esther was predeceased by her husband, her parents and her sister. She is survived by her five children, James (Karen), Jane (Donald Matthees), John (Catherine), Thomas (Michelle), and Stephen (Kari), 9 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.

Esther was active her entire life in various roles, including homemaker, teacher, PEO, Prosequi Study Club, Friends of the Library, Moorhead State Alumni Board, the American Legion Auxiliary, St. Joseph Church, the State of MN Bilingual Education Advisory Task Force, and a charter member of the Fargo/Moorhead Finnish-American Historical Society, now Red River Finns. Esther was always proud of her Finnish heritage, was an early supporter of Salolampi, the Finnish Language Village at the Concordia Language Villages, and exemplified Sisu in her daily life. Esther was a world traveler, lifelong learner, adored books, opera, and crossword puzzles. On her travels Esther would often surprise people by telling them hello and thank you in their native tongue.

Esther was passionate about education. She stressed the importance of education to her children and grandchildren, and was proud to see all five of her children through college and graduate programs.

She will be dearly missed. How lucky we are to have known someone to whom it’s so hard to say goodbye.

Due to the global pandemic, the family is holding a private service. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to The ALS Association; Salolampi Foundation, (Concordia Language Villages, 901 8th Street South, Moorhead, MN 56460); or Moorhead State University, 1104 7th Avenue South, Moorhead, MN 56563)


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30 responses to “Esther Garrity”

  1. Rita says:

    First of all, I have to say the obituary is beautifully written. It is a shining tribute to a woman who loved languages, especially the English language. It is hard to imagine a world without Aunt Esther in it. I have so many good memories of her. I am wishing all of you comfort and peace during this time. It is hard, hard to see a mother go.

  2. Dianne and Chuck Thueson says:

    She lived a good, interesting, and long life. Sympathies to you all.

  3. Paul and Colleen Marquart says:

    Our sympathies to the Garrity family. Your mother was a very special lady. I enjoyed seeing her at the spaghetti dinners! Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

  4. Brent Colby says:

    We are so sorry to see this. She was a wonderful person who raised a wonderful family. We are thinking of you.

    Brent, LeAnn, Hunter, Tyler and Alyssa Colby

  5. Mary (Olson) Kladstrup says:

    My sympathies to your entire family. Esther was such a lovely, interesting woman, who truly made the finest Christmas cookies! I still have most of her cookie recipes, and a doll she sent to me when my daughter was born. She had mighty strength in a tiny package. If my mother were still alive, she would say she was a kind and generous friend. Love to your family.

  6. Barton J Cahill says:

    May God bless Zoom. She had a great life. My condolences to the Garrity family.

  7. Lilla Talge says:

    My sincere sympathy to Esther’s Family. Esther was one of my PEO sisters, Moorhead Chapter DC. She was a bright shining star. Esther was genuinely interested in knowing the importance of being engaged of uplifting conversation with others. It was my privilege to know her. Peace be with you as you bid a final farewell and celebrate the legacy of Esther.

  8. Patti Pratt says:

    I was privileged to meet Esther when I moved into the Tennefos Apartments. She was the “welcoming committee” and I loved her from our first meeting. She was so cute and had such a fun disposition…….I missed her when she moved to Touchmark but her great personality shown there, too. Rest In Peace, dear Esther…you will never be forgotten by me. ❤️❤️Patti Pratt

  9. Karen Jelleberg says:

    Aimee, Diana, and Karen in the Sanford film room would like to express our deepest sympathies to the Garrity family on the loss of their matriarch.

  10. Tuula and John Kube says:

    We are so happy to have known Esther. She will be missed at our Finn gatherings. We so enjoyed visiting with her at our meetings and while volunteering over the years at the Hjemkomsts Scandinavian Festival. Sympathy to Esther’s family.

  11. Mary Nelson says:

    Touchmark lost a shining, smiling woman when Esther left us. I will miss her wide grin when she would spot my very active puppy…and she didn’t mind a bit when Maggie would chew on her fingers.

  12. larry and mila costello says:

    what a wonderful lady.it was always a treat to get the chance to visit with her

  13. Bob and Mary Cahill says:

    Condolences to the Garrity families. Very fond memories of “Zoom” John, she kept us on the right path growing up:)

  14. Mary Beth Miller says:

    What a beautiful lady your mother was. I got to know Esther when I worked out with her at the Sanford gym exercise class. She must have been in her 80’s at the time. The first time I met her, we lifted weights and I couldn’t believe how strong she was. She explained that she needed to be strong to take care of Jim with his ALS. She was such a good friend and so up beat. I continued to enjoy my visits with her for many years. What an inspiration she was to young and old. My sympathies to your family, enjoy your happy memories of a beautiful lady.

  15. Jeffrey Burrill says:

    Esther and James Garrity were close friends of my parents, Eloise and Bob Burrill. I was a child when I met Essie and was immediately taken in by her personality and kindness. My sympathies and prayers go out to her family.

  16. Carolyn Kopca says:

    Ester was also a very good friend to my mother Betty. For years called each other every morning to see if they were ok! Ester was well loved and cared for by many. My condolences to the Garrity’s. May she Rest In Peace.
    Carolyn Kopca

  17. Marcy Fridlund says:

    My heartfelt sympathies to Esther’s family, and prayers for comfort and strength. Esther was a very dear friend of my husband’s mother, Marge Fridlund. When Scott passed away, she gave me a Kodak slide of him as a boy, standing by his soap box derby car. Such a kind and thoughtful gift, she warmed my heart.

  18. Shauna Nelson says:

    I want to thank you for sharing your mom with us at Touchmark.. I will treasure the time I got to spend with her, and will smile every time I think of her. My thoughts and sympathies to you all.

    Shauna Nelson

  19. Cindy Stadum says:

    Our family is so sad to hear of Esther’s passing. She was such a dear friend of my mother-in-law, Betty. Esther and Betty had a daily phone conversation for many years. It meant so much to us that Betty had such a dear friend. They were true soulmates. It was my pleasure to have known Esther. She was such a remarkable woman. Betty was so fond of her. I was too!

  20. Dororhea West says:

    As Esther’s family knows so many of us at Touchmark will miss Esther’s sweet smile and kindness. My sympathy to the family. My heart goes out to you.

  21. Teri Litherland Thorsen says:

    Jane and family, I’m so sad to hear of Esther’s death. She was an icon – always kind and upbeat. What a gift she was to know, first as a child, and later as a PEO. I’m sorry the pandemic won’t make it possible to gather at share stories. Thinking of you all.
    Teri (from the block) Thorsen

  22. Karen Fridlund says:

    To Esther’s Children- I am so sorry to hear of your mother’s death. My parents, Coke and Marge Fridlund were very close to both of your parents and I remember Esther well. My mother died two years ago at the age of 99, so I know the huge hole left in your hearts and your life by her passing. Both your parents were delightful, remarkable people. Take comfort in the fact that she lived a full and happy life. My sincere condolences. Karen Fridlund

  23. Marlene Henry says:

    I was so happy to have known Ester.I always enjoyed our visits. She always had something interesting and fun to talk about.Sympathies to the Garrity family.

  24. Marcy says:

    Esther was a lovely lady. I’m honoured to have been able to know her for the last 3 years of her life. If she was as exemplary of a person in those years, I imagine her strength of character reaches very deep in all of the lives she touched throughout all of her 96 yrs. She will be missed. May her family know peace.

  25. Todd Olson and Family says:

    Steve and Family,
    Condolences from Tokyo. We were saddened to hear the news about your mother.
    Great memories from Moorhead High and other times at your house. She was also always such a great friend to my dad.
    All of our love and best wishes.
    Todd, Keiko, Sean and Tyler Olson

  26. Susan, Ingrid and August King says:

    My kids and I have such fond memories of Nana–many that involve lots of laughing in the kitchen at 1732.
    May she rest in peace.

  27. Monte Edlund says:

    My condolences to all the Garrity family. I always admired Esther and I know my parents George and Esther counted her as a close friend. She was such a force of nature to me, as I know she was a wonderful mother to all the Garrity clan. Great times at the Cormorant cottage! Blessing to all the family.

  28. Ben Dille says:

    I learned of Esther’s death just now and wanted to let the family know of the pleasant memories I have of her joyous and happy demeanor whenever I met her. She was such a joy to be with and talk to. My thoughts are with the family and my memories will endure.

  29. Vicki Johnson says:

    I am so late with this, I apologize, however please know that Mom and I were remembering Esther in so many loving ways since hearing of her passing. She and Mom shared so many memories as students at Hibbing JC and then taking the big step to Moorhead to finish their education. Every year, like this one, I hang my stocking on the fireplace and thank her for the love and beautiful work she put into it. Thinking of you all this year at the holidays, as you spend it without your lovely mother and sending you blessings to make it special. She was a special lady and will be missed. RIP Esther…with love…

  30. Mark Streed says:

    Sorry but I was unaware of Esther’s passing until recently. When you were speaking with Esther she made you feel like the most important person in the world—a rare and great gift. I remember the strong, positive impression she made on me when I was a young boy but didn’t understand her “gift” until many years later when she and I crossed paths in Moorhead and had the most delightful conversation. She was so smart and could carry on a conversation about anything and everything.

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