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Esther Fiske Doherty


1931 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Esther Fiske Doherty Obituary
Doherty , Esther Fiske

Esther Fiske Doherty passed away on January 28, 2017 at the age of 86, following a head injury sustained from a fall.

A resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts since 2015, Esther lived and traveled widely. She was born in Waban, Massachusetts January 19, 1931, to Wyman Parkhurst and Ruth (Nichols) Fiske, and went on to live in Scarsdale, New York, where she attended high school, then in Louisville, Kentucky, Bristol, Rhode Island, Rochester, New York, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Ithaca, New York.

Esther Fiske graduated from Swarthmore College in 1952, and promptly joined with several classmates that summer to work at camps helping rebuild Europe after World War II with the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers). She sustained Swarthmore friendships throughout her life. During college she worked summers as a counselor at the Aloha camps in Vermont, an affiliation she would maintain through the next two generations of her family.

In 1953, Esther moved to Louisville to work at Neighborhood House, a settlement house helping urban children and families living in poverty. It was there she met Bob Doherty, another former Bostonian who was volunteering time to work with children. The two married in Louisville in 1955. During her many years there, Esther raised three children and earned a Master in the Art of Teaching from the University of Louisville. She later taught in elementary schools in Rochester before starting to work in career training for students. She went on to serve as director of career planning at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. In 1985, she and Bob moved to Ithaca, a geographic midpoint between where Esther worked as director of career services at the State University of New York at Cortland and Bob's work at Alfred University.

From her start at work camps in Europe, Esther continued to travel the world throughout her life. She and her family lived in Munich, Germany for a year in the 1960s, a place to which she would bring her children and grandchildren many times in later years. She was a Fulbright Scholar in 1991 spending six months advising the University of Technology in Johor Bahru, Malaysia on its career planning program. After retirement, Esther and Bob took long trips in Peru, India, China, Egypt, South Africa and Europe, often with their children.

One constant throughout Esther's life was an old farmhouse and land in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, purchased by her parents in 1931. She spent childhood summers there and returned there for all or some of almost every summer throughout her life. In the 1970s she and Bob began hosting an annual reunion there every August, bringing together extended family and often their in-laws and friends as well. After moving to Ithaca, they started spending Thanksgiving in Wolfeboro, too, inviting her brother John and his family and providing many treasured memories for her two nephews and their children.

Esther is survived by her husband Robert J. Doherty of Cambridge, Massachusetts, her brother John W. Fiske of Cape Cod, her children Jonathan, Anne, and Timothy Doherty, grandchildren Ruth, Helen, and William Doherty, two nephews, five grand-nieces and -nephews, and many beloved cousins.
Published in Ithaca Journal on Feb. 16, 2017
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