Esther Frances Kusmierski

May 24, 1923 ~
May 16, 2023

Esther Frances Kusmierski passed away peacefully on May 15, 2023. Born on May 24, 1923 to Frances and Constantine (“Gus”) Reda, she was one of six children. A loving wife to Ted Kusmierski, she was mother to Sharon Lawson (husband, Chuck Lawson), Theodore Kusmierski (wife, Martha Kusmierski), James Kusmierski (wife, Lauren Taylor); grandmother to Tom Ouellette (wife, Suzanne Ouellette), Marcy Burkett (husband, Scott Burkett), Brett and Craig Kusmierski; great-grandmother to Brandon, Ryan, and Colton Burkett, Luc and Nina Ouellette.

Esther was orphaned at aged twelve. She and her siblings moved into an apartment; everyone who could work did, all chipping in for rent, food, and clothing. Her early life gave her a fierce devotion to family. Despite being poor, Esther did well in school. One of her fondest childhood memories was her time at Camp Blodgett where she performed the starring role in the play and got to show off her singing talents.

She met the love of her life, Ted, at a local dance, to whom she was wed for sixty-six years. Shortly after their marriage and the birth of their first child, Ted was called to service in WWII, leaving Esther to raise their daughter, work her first wartime job, and buy their first house, next to her sister Bea, while he was away. Esther faithfully supported her husband in his successful tool and die business -Modern Molds- while raising their three children and keeping an impeccable household. As a couple, Esther and Ted enjoyed golf, travel, and attending social occasions and special events with the die makers’ association (of which Ted served a term as president). Together with their kids, they spent countless weekends at family cottages fishing, swimming, and barbecuing, and going to museums, movies, and shopping in downtown Grand Rapids. She was an avid reader and regularly attended mass at her church, St. John Vianney in Wyoming, Michigan.

Esther cared for her husband Ted with love and devotion throughout his thirteen-year journey with Alzheimer’s, at home, alone, until his final months. After his passing, she lived by herself well into her 90’s, snow blowing her drive in the winter and mowing the grass in her large yard. She walked the Mackinac Bridge on Labor Day twice when she was in her 90’s, and continued to make physical activity a priority her entire life.

Esther shared a loving bond with her daughter, Sharon, who visited her every week, always taking her shopping, enjoying lunches at their favorite places, and looking after her along with Sharon’s husband, Chuck who could always be counted on for steadfast support. Ever a faithful daughter, Sharon’s devotion to her mother was a sustaining force through the very end of Esther’s life, never missing an opportunity to anticipate her needs and show up for her in good times and in bad.

Once a year, Esther made the trip to see her son Ted, his wife Marty, and grandson Craig in Texas where they hiked, cooked, visited museums and gardens, and went to stores together. She was very proud of her son’s intelligence, academic success, and acceptance to West Point. In later years, his calls brought a smile to her face and helped her to recall cherished memories of love and family.

Esther had a special relationship with her youngest son, James - sharing a love of books, deep conversation, and hard work. She always looked forward to his visits and could count on him whenever things needed fixing and in times of distress. When the time eventually came to move out of her home, Esther moved in with James and his wife, Lauren, who she cherished as much as a “girlfriend” as a daughter-in-law. She spent many hours down by the lake with Jim. She found purpose in the care of family pets, making lunches for Jim and helping Lauren in the chicken yard where they recorded live videos daily and posted them on Facebook throughout the pandemic. Her vivacity and humor touched the hearts of millions around the world, amassing a loyal internet following, and flooding the mailbox with thousands of well wishes, cards, and gifts for Esther’ birthday.

Esther was very close to her granddaughter, Marcy, who lives in Kalamazoo with her husband Scott and three boys, where she spent many family holidays as well as regular outings to the zoo, gardens, and always a good lunch! She spoke frequently of her grandson Tom, who lives in Atlanta with his wife Suzanne and children Luc and Nina who lovingly referred to her as “the little grandma”. Her best times with her grandson Craig, were recalled with praise for his cooking and many outdoor projects where he lives in Texas.

In her final months, she moved to Samaritas, an elder care facility, charming her devoted caretakers and developing a social network of many friends at the Woods, which she enjoyed to the very end. She passed peacefully, her last hours spent surrounded by her Michigan family.

The Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:00 am on Saturday, May 27, 2023 at St. John Vianney Church, 4101 Clyde Park SW, Wyoming, with Rev. John Vallier presiding. Burial at Resurrection. Relatives and friends may meet the family Saturday from 9-10 am prior to the service at the church.