Esther M. Starkweather of Colchester passed away on August 22, 2019, at the age of 99. Born November 2, 1919, in the family farmhouse on Nelkin Road in Colchester, she was the daughter of the late John and Eleanore (Niemi) Nelkin and the third of six siblings. Marriage to Donald T. Starkweather in 1940 sent her to Brooklyn, New York, his hometown, where she raised her family and pursued her nursing degree. Graduating first in her class and receiving awards in the nursing program at Kingsborough Community College, Esther went on to enjoy an accomplished nursing career, serving in the operating room at Caledonian Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her subsequent return to her hometown brought new opportunities to continue in the profession she loved, serving in the Colchester Convalescent Home and later at Easter Seals Camp Hemlocks in Hebron. Among her favorite pastimes, Esther especially enjoyed gardening and reading, with a special interest in history and science. She was an avid fan of the UConn men’s and women’s basketball teams, and of the New York Yankees, New England Patriots, and Cleveland Browns. An active member of the local AARP chapter and the Colchester Senior Center for many years, Esther was a dedicated advocate for senior citizens. She also worked at local polling sites at election time and participated for several years in a local intergenerational program that brought seniors and elementary school students together for lunchtime events. A last surviving graduate of her high school class from Bacon Academy, Esther maintained lifelong friendships with friends she grew up with and their families.
Esther leaves three children: daughter Caryl Estes (and Rene E. King) of Maine, son Stephen Starkweather (and wife Joan) of New Jersey, and daughter Lyann Starkweather of New York; five grandchildren: Christine Estes Burton (and James Moffa) of Florida, John Estes (and wife Susan) of New York, Karyn Estes-Lewis (and husband Ryan) of Maine, Stacy Gradaille and Scott Starkweather, both of Florida; and five great grandchildren: Olivia, Andrew, and Emma Estes, Alexa Starkweather, and Kevin Gradaille. Esther is predeceased by her husband and five siblings: Sylvalea Ralph, Maxine Snell, Frank Nelkin, Minnette Standish, and Helen Brown. She also leaves, among many other close family members, her niece Lynda Verrill, who maintained a steadfast and caring presence in Esther’s final years. Esther was beloved by all who knew her. Having cultivated lifelong affection and loving relationships with the children of her siblings, she was a centerpiece at family events and holiday celebrations in Colchester, where she will be very much missed.
In accordance with Esther’s wishes, private arrangements have been entrusted to the Aurora-McCarthy Funeral Home in Colchester. In lieu of flowers, her family requests that donations in her memory be made to the Colchester Hayward Volunteer Fire Company, 52 Old Hartford Road, Colchester, CT 06415. For online condolences, please visit www.auroramccarthyfuneralhome.com.
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