Esther Dean

image of Esther Dean

Esther Dean

Our beloved mother, Esther Dean, passed away January 10th, 2021 at the age of 98.

Born in Stanberry, Missouri on September 26, 1922 to Elmer Enoch Spainhower and Stella Irene Cox, she was number nine of thirteen children.

Her love was teaching, starting her career in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Missouri. She received her degree from The Northwest Missouri State Teachers College in Maryville and her master’s degree from the University of Colorado.

She taught in Twin Falls, Idaho and later moved to Richland, Washington where she became girls’ counselor.

It was there she met her husband, Robert Y. Dean. They were married June 12th, 1953 and had two daughters. She gave up her career in 1955 after the birth of her first daughter and became a stay-at-home mom.

Between helping kids with homework and driving them to after-school activities, she found time to volunteer. Esther spent many years working with local food banks and was an active member of the United Methodist Women in Ellensburg, WA, where she lived for 18 years. She was a room mother, teacher of Sunday school, and Camp Fire leader. She loved rock hunting adventures with the family, sewing clothes for her children, quilting, and making crafts of every kind–often chairing the annual church holiday bazaar.

After Dad’s retirement in 1987, they moved to Gig Harbor, WA, and traveled to Australia, China, England, Guatemala, and Mexico.

After Dad’s passing in 1998, she moved to Seattle to live closer to her elder daughter, Sharon.

Even in her senior years she continued to volunteer, walking up to the Greenwood Senior Center where she prepared lunches several days a week. Until the age of 94, she continued to be an active member in the Woodland Park United Methodist Church.

She had been living in the Merrill Gardens memory care unit since Fall of 2017 after suffering a compression fracture in her spine as the result of a fall.

She is survived by her daughters Sharon of Seattle, WA; Carolyn of Santa Cruz, CA; and younger sister Charlotte of Blue Springs, MO. She was preceded in death by her husband Robert Y. Dean (1921-1998); her parents; six brothers; and five sisters.

Donations are being accepted in her memory to Atlantic Street Center, a charity offering family services to people of color and in need. Please send designated donations in care of Woodland Park United Methodist Church, 302 N. 78th St., Seattle, WA 98103, so that donations can be forwarded all at once.


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