Esther, 94, a women of beauty and grace, passed away peacefully on December 27, 2012. She was born on Valentine's Day, February 14, 1918, in Terry, Montana to August Uttke and Matilda (Dickhoff) Uttke in a log cabin built by her father. At age 5 she and her family moved to Lodi and attended Garfield, Lincoln and Salem grammar schools, graduating from Lodi High in 1936 where she was involved in music and drama, being named Student Director (as a Junior) for the Senior Class play, and also played on Lodi High's first girls' softball team, the Hilltop Girls. On weekends she shared her love for piano by playing and singing duets with her brother Woodrow at youth meetings and the Stockton Rescue Mission.|
Following graduation she became a secretary for attorney Frank Henning, who although blind, was incredibly knowledgeable in interpreting the law. Under his employ she greatly advanced her office skills.
She met David Melcher, a teller at Farmers and Merchants bank, at an Easter Sunrise Service at Lodi Lake, and they were married in January of 1939. Dad became a Realtor and home builder and Mom enjoyed being a homemaker, being busy raising 4 children. When all the kids were in school she became the Administrative Assistant at Bethel Church for 32 years, serving under the leadership of 5 Pastors. She continued her talent and dedication to music, playing for church services and accompanying the choir for many musicals for 15 years.
In 1960, David and Esther purchased David's parents' (Albert and Mary Melcher) home at 421 W. Pine Street where they hosted memorable family dinners which included many German dishes, Thanksgiving with the Uttke "clan" and Christmas with the Melcher "clan". (The last gathering included 54 for dinner, singing and Santa's arrival). Especially enjoyable was the Grape Festival parade that passed by their home, with the front porch and lawn filled with family , friends and strangers.
Mom rarely missed the sporting events of her children and grandchildren and was an avid 49er and Joe Montana fan.
Following her retirement and David's passing in 1991 she moved to Bethel Gardens and continued to minister to others by playing piano for residents at Vienna during a weekly Friday devotional time.
1992 she married Alexander (Alex) Klaus, gaining 3 more daughters: Jane (Jerry) Adams, Barbara (Ron) Collins and Sheryldean (Cliff) Rogers and their families, who dearly loved her and affectionately called her "Special Mom" (SMom). Esther and Alex were an amazing match, enjoying the same passions for their faith, their music (Alex played harmonica) and for travel for 8 fulfilling years. Alexander Klaus passed away in 2001.
When she moved to Chancellor Place she continued playing piano every day for her own enjoyment and made many new friends.
This incredible woman, our mom, left a legacy that cannot be matched. She was always positive, full of life and had such a grateful heart. Her faith taught us all the importance of trusting God for wisdom, strength, joy and peace. She had our greatest respect and love. The family acknowledges with gratitude the "angels" at Vienna who so lovingly cared for her the past 8 months.
Her husband, David Melcher, her daughter Patricia, her brothers Woodrow, Lloyd and Harley, second husband Alexander Klaus and a Special Aunt, Martha Bice preceded her in death.
She is survived by her sister Colleen (Roger) Vincent; her children and their spouses: Stan and Judy Melcher, Ron and Carole Addington and Becky and Dan Soto.
6 grandchildren and their families: Gregg and Dana Addington (Michael Addington, Michelle and Jared Moses and their children Monroe and Ledger), Kris and Neal Colwell (Nathan, Alexandra and Cameron), Stefani Melcher, Nicole and Chris Hague (Tessa), Aaron Vitali, Dana and Ryan Francisco (Tyler, Dodger and Gage) and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 12th at Bethel Church, 760 S. Ham Ln, Lodi. Committal will be private. Cherokee Memorial Funeral Home is assisting the family in the arrangements.
Published in Lodi News-Sentinel from Jan. 3 to Jan. 10, 2013