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Memories & Candles

“So many of my childhood memories include the Adams family! When Aunt Esther, Uncle Willie and family came for their summer visit you could always...Read More »
1 of 5 | Posted by: Donna Conner - TN - Niece

“I was saddened to hear of Aunt Esther's passing. Like Wilma, I always looked forward to seeing her and Uncle Willie every time they came to Tennessee...Read More »
2 of 5 | Posted by: John, Kim, & Rachel Hurst - TN

“We were surprised to learn of Aunt Esther's passing and are truly sorry for your loss. She was a fun loving person and we always enjoyed seeing her...Read More »
3 of 5 | Posted by: Dorothy Cochran & Ruby Eggebrecht - IN

“I am sorry to hear of your mom's passing. She lived a long life full of adventures. What more could you ask for? Joanne Hartzel ”
4 of 5 | Posted by: Joanne Hartzel

“I have many wonderful and fun memories of Aunt Esther. The family vacations to Tennessee, her home place, was where I lived, grew up, and still live...Read More »
5 of 5 | Posted by: Wilma Conner Redmond - Harrogate, TN


If you did not have the pleasure of knowing Esther Adams personally, you may have been a bit puzzled at first when learning about her life. How was the country girl who grew up surrounded by farms and mountains able to break away to see the world and make a life for herself during a time when young ladies were expected to stay at home to cook and clean? How was the lady who was so ahead of her time in terms of education, fashion and worldly travels still able to stay grounded enough to enjoy life's simple pleasures: the joy of family and friends, gardening and sewing? Yet somehow, during her near century on this Earth, Esther made every aspect of her life come together seamlessly. Through her words and actions, Esther would, as the years went by, lovingly pass along the wisdom and knowledge she had gained during her life's journey and what better people we are today for it.

The eldest of two girls born to Shelton and Maggie Olivia Sandifer (née Lingar), Esther Lee Adams entered into this world ninety-six years ago on October 16, 1917 in her family's small log cabin. Even as 1917 would mark a year of great change in the United States (the country, under President Woodrow Wilson, would enter into World War One; the Great Atlanta Fire would take place; the Suffragettes would take to the streets protesting for women's right to vote) the little town of Harrogate, Tennessee, however, would continue to maintain its quiet rural ways. Farmers, like Shelton, were scattered about the landscape, and it was obvious even then to little Esther that the country life was not for her. But she continued to be a mild-mannered girl and everyday walked to school and afterwards, came home, do her studies and then take part in the many chores that needed to be done around the farm and house.

At the age of thirteen, Esther would sadly lose her mother, Maggie, after her death at the age of forty to pneumonia. Though her father remarried, Esther took it upon herself to help raise her little sister, June. This loving, maturnal nature is a trait Esther would possess for the rest of her life.

When she was sixteen years old, the five-foot, eight inch Esther with a will and determination that could not be suppressed, was finally afforded an opportunity to begin her high school studies early at the Berea College of Berea, Kentucky. Established in 1855, Berea University offered many degrees to its students and Esther, always a lover of knowledge, was an excellent student. She found her talent as a seamstress an asset as she was placed in the weaving department of the university to help pay off her tuition.

While attending Berea, Esther would meet fellow student Willie Adams. He was an intelligent and eager young man working towards his degree in Chemistry. The two would start a romance that would last the next sixty years. While Esther would earn her diploma from Berea and relocate to Monroe, Michigan to be with her sister, she urged (and some would say even forced) Willie to stay behind and complete his studies at Berea. Though physically apart, the two kept in touch through countless love letters. Finally after several years separation, Willie earned his degree and there was no question of whom Esther still wanted to spend the rest of her life with. On April 11, 1942, Esther and Willie would marry in her home town during a small ceremony. They would relocate to Detroit, Michigan where Willie put his degree to good use, working first at U. S. Rubber as a Chemist and later for Chrysler as a Chemical Engineer.

As time would pass, their children, Ronald, Kenneth, Janet and Doreen, would enter their lives completing their family circle and they all would relocate from present day Eastpointe and Clinton Township. As a mother, Esther could not be beat. She was an amazing cook known throughout her neighborhood for her green beans, sweet rolls and cobblers. Esther took great care to make sure her children exceeded in all they pursued. From their school teachers to their church family from Calvary Baptist and later Bethany Baptist, everyone always noted how the Adams children were impeccably dressed, well spoken and very intelligent children. But all this, they learned from their mother. She not only had formal knowledge and training, but a mother-wit that was a second nature to her. She raised her children on four main principles that they all still live by to this day; to serve the Lord, to value knowledge and education, to be kind to everyone and to be confident and self-reliant citizens. Esther always had high-standards for herself and everyone she met, and her children were treated no differently. She lived her life as an example; whenever you saw Esther, she was always well dressed (a new outfit was necessary for each function) and when she spoke, you knew you were in the presence of a strong, gutsy lady who was ready to take on the world.

Years would go by and Esther would watch each of her children leave home to start their own lives. She and Willie would now have even more opportunities to enjoy time together. They traveled the world; from cruising around the Bahamas to touring Europe and visiting family and friends from all over the country, you would never see one without the other. But Esther and Willie were never happier than just being at home tending to their garden and watching their grandchildren grow.

After Willie sadly passed away in the early 2000's, Esther was forced to move on without him and learn to do many of the things he had always taken care of as her husband. Not long after, she would move into assisted living, but her spirits remained higher than ever. At each social event for the seniors, Esther was always the life of the party. From the Hawaiian

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