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Mrs. Esther Haughey James

Mrs. Esther Haughey James
  • April 27, 1916 - November 2, 2019
  • Kalamazooo, Michigan
  • Ladies of the Lake Scholarship Fund (made out to Ladies of the Lake)
    c/o Sandi Jasper
    7415 Stoney Creek Drive
    Augusta, MI 49012

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“Aunt Esther was a wonderful aunt and I treasured the times I spent at Gull Lake with the family Thank you Aunt Esther for beautiful memories. Barb ”
1 of 4 | Posted by: Barbara Hagelshaw - Battle Creek, MI

“I met Esther through the Ladies of the Lake. She was an amazing woman; very kind and always anxious to help. I'm so sorry for your loss.Diane Grundy ”
2 of 4 | Posted by: A friend

“Dear Family and Friends of Esther, I am not even an acquaintance.....but I just read Esther's wonderful obituary. WHAT A WOMAN!! ...Read More »
3 of 4 | Posted by: Sr. Pat Foley - Kalamazoo, MI

“My fondest memories of Esther were the times she showed me her amazing weaving skills and spoke of her love of her family. She will be missed. Such a...Read More »
4 of 4 | Posted by: Ann Swartout - Augusta, MI


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Esther James died peacefully on November 2 at age 103. Blessed with a long and rich life, she was an amazing super senior who lived independently in her Gull Lake home and drove her own car until age 98.

She was a life long resident on Gull Lake, having been one of the original families to live on Crescent Beach. One of two daughters, and with six brothers, she was a member of the prominent Wilfrid Haughey family. She was the matriarch of a large extended family and indeed will long be remembered as a nurturing way station, an omnipresent listener (there was nothing more important than you at that moment), and dispenser of the famous sugar cookies that she worked hard to keep in the kitchen cookie jar. This was a loving gift and tradition started by her own mother. In the Haughey household friends and neighbors knew to stop first in the kitchen, reach into the bin, and enjoy a delicious cookie, often before saying "hello."

Esther was the fifth child of a large family, and she created a large family of her own. She had four children with her high school sweetheart Donald Dolan. Donald died early in his life as did her beloved sister Edith Ellen. She later married Albert James (Edith Ellen's widower) and enveloped his four children into her heart. These eight children produced an ever-expanding group of grandchildren and great grandchildren. She loved family occasions and was the hub of every family event, a master at creating meals and picnics for a crowd. Summertime at her lake house was filled with swimming, sailboat racing, tennis, and bicycling. She had a favorite chair beneath the maple tree to watch the lake and happy children. Activities were always followed by effortless and delicious meals and a reverent enjoyment of the sunsets.

A talented artist, she taught art in the Gull Lake Schools, and won many awards for her own fiber art. Encouraged by her sister Edith Ellen, she learned to weave in midlife. Weaving became a passionate pursuit. She was a founding member of The Weavers Guild of Kalamazoo and active in every aspect of the organization; from being president, to bringing world renowned fiber artists to Kalamazoo. She generously demonstrated weaving in many schools and organizations. Her large loom, and several smaller looms, dominated her living room like prized works of art, always with beautiful works in progress available for all to see.

She was a dedicated community member. She served on the Gull Lake Quality Board, and was a long time member of the charitable Ladies of the Lake. She diligently worked to raise money for scholarships for local high school students, and always supported increased improvements to our public schools. She spearheaded a video of Gull Lake that raised over $40,000 for students in the community to attend college. The Lades of the Lake continue this scholarship fund, awarding $4000 annually to deserving young people. By virtue of the many of her children and grandchildren who played sports, she had a lifetime pass to all athletic events at the Gull Lake Schools.

A memorial service will be held at 3 pm on Saturday, Nov. 9th at the Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care, Richland Chapel, 9710 East D. Avenue (M-89), Richland. Contributions can be made to the Ladies of the Lake Scholarship Fund (made out to Ladies of the Lake) c/o Sandi Jasper, 7415 Stoney Creek Drive, Augusta, MI 49012 or to the charity of your choice. Personal messages for the family may be placed at www.farleyestesdowdle.com.