Esther Pearson

Esther Pearson




Esther Pearson passed away on April 21, 2009 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.  She was born in La Conner, WA on May 2, 1919, the youngest of five children, to Swedish immigrant parents Carl and Agnes Hultman, and grew up with a love of gardening.  After attending WSU, she settled in Seattle and worked in the Dorothy Neighbors Department at the Seattle Times.  In 1942 she married Arnold C. Pearson, a Boeing aeronautical engineer and accomplished photographer.  She established her own landscape design business and won acclaim with her work, which featured native plant material that highly complemented the best of Pacific Northwest modern architecture.  Always a passionate learner and doer, she continued to take classes at the UW and SCC in art, history and creative writing.  In 1980 she combined her interest in immigrant history and love of travel with Arnold’s stunning photography and the two of them co-authored Early Churches of Washington State, published by University of Washington Press.     


During their 56 year loving marriage Esther and Arnold had two children, Carl and Sina, grandchildren Carin, Eric and Matthew and great-granddaughter Elena.   She is also survived by her nieces, Robin Bajus and Joanne Long; nephews Carl and Wendell Hultman and Jim Hallead; and numerous grand nieces and nephews.  She was preceded in death by Arnold in 1999, and her brothers Norman, Paul and George Hultman and sister Louise Bettner.   


Esther loved to travel with Arnold and found in every trip to Europe, Japan, New York or throughout the Pacific Northwest a way to reconnect with family, meet new people and establish lifelong friendships.  She welcomed all to her comforting home and lush garden.  She also made time to volunteer at the Seattle Art Museum and at the University Unitarian Church.  Her stunning chancel arrangements for UUC were legendary. 


Esther’s talents and generosity were immeasurable.  Along with Arnold, she lived a life filled with art, photography, music, great food and gardening, and more than anything, love of family and friends.  She will serve as an inspiration to all that knew and loved her.


A memorial service and celebration of Esther’s life will be held on June 27, 2009 11AM at University Unitarian Church, 6556 35th Ave. NE, Seattle 98115.  In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland, Alzheimer’s Association, or Evergreen Hospice, or to a charity of choice.


Friends are encouraged to share memories in the family’s online guestbook below.

2 Responses to “ESTHER PEARSON”

  • Linda Antoncich Mikkelsen says:

    Oh, I have such fond memories of the Pearsons and growing up next door. I loved the arty atmosphere that came from there. I remember Mrs Pearson listening to Bob Dylan before he was really big and Mr Pearson practicing his classical guitar (that is when I first learned of Segovia). They introduced me to a lot of creative ideas. One thing I really loved besides playing in the Pearson garden under the snowball tree was a special little cookie that Mrs Pearson made – they were about the size of an Altoid. They were delicious and amazing to behold because she filled a larger than cookie jar size container! Esther you are missed and thank you for being in my life. With love, Linda

  • Glenda Geerlofs says:

    On May 2 every year I thought of Esther, though through the years I’d stopped calling to wish her happy birthday. My son told me she had died just before we left on a trip, and I never learned of a service for her.

    I met Esther and Arnold in 1964 or 1965 when they became Aunt Esther and Uncle Arnold. That winter Esther gave me green branches in a small pottery bowl – the most artsy and cherished gift I’d ever received. I kept the branches alive for more than a year in the same bowl. Looking back, I think it was salal or laurustinus, still favorites.

    I was so young and in awe in Esther and Arnold’s home. It was mysterious, foreign, filled with everything exotic – Scandinavian furniture, brown seagrass (rice paper?) walls, Arnold’s black and white photos, a darkroom even, lots of wood, a sort of red color in the kitchen along with a kind of greenish blue, every size orange Le Creuset cookware, even skillets. There was Sina in the kitchen tie dying something or Esther and Arnold painting balsa wood Christmas tree ornaments.

    Esther’s greatest gift to me was her garden. I pestered her to know the names of everything planted there. She had a beautiful Whitcombi cherry tree in front of the house for years, and brought me branches in bloom on a January birth day. She had a giant bed of strawberries! I wanted to know every plant, and she taught me. I learned names like cotoneaster and viburnum and staghorn sumac, Oregon grape, camellia, and forsythia.

    Esther’s world was wondrous to me. One time she called and said she had a birch tree that had volunteered in the wrong place and did I want it. It was big, but I brought it home and planted it like a novice, fearfully. Somehow, thanks probably to Seattle’s rain, it lived to be a full grown tree by our driveway, and even after I moved I thought of Esther whenever I saw it.

    Esther to me was always an ageless and beautiful Ingrid Bergman. The last time I saw her, I took her pictures of my current garden, including one of the patio covered with tawny brown dawn redwood needles, and I took her huge rosy blooming branches from my own Whitcombi cherry. I told her how much I had learned to love from her. g

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