Esther Olivia Benson Heyer passed away at the age of ”99 and one half” on August 2, 2022.
Born in Missoula January 15, 1923, the daughter of Otto Benson Sr. and Olivia Erickson Benson, her early life was at the family’s Orchard Homes Dairy, now Benson Farms. She attended Hawthorne School and graduated from MCHS. She grew up with brothers Otto, John, Elmer and Martin, and sister Ruth. Her strong work ethic was learned as she worked on the farm. She was a young woman who excelled in everything she did. Esther was involved in 4-H, earning ribbons, and demonstrating many projects. She attended National 4-H Congress. 4-H interests were gardening, cooking, and nationally awarded canning. A member of Rainbow Girls, she was Worthy Advisor and received the Grand Cross of Colors.
Esther married Warren Heyer in 1943. He joined the Navy during WWII; this began her experience as a military wife. When he left the Navy, they settled back in Orchard Homes. They had two sons, Warren Jr., and Douglas. Warren and Esther were a team in everything. They were 4-H Leaders and supported the boys in DeMolay and church activities. In 1962, Dad was called to active duty from Army Reserve during the Cuban and Berlin Crises. They moved to Ft Hood, TX. Mom, at times without Dad present, used her leadership to tend to the needs of the boys. Dad’s military service offered her opportunities to contribute to his career by her own dedication to that life. When Dad was deployed to Viet Nam she and the boys moved back to Missoula. She packed and unpacked many times, preparing for tours in Indianapolis, Baltimore, Rio De Janeiro, St. Louis, then retiring from Selfridge, MI.
Esther was active in Orchard Homes Country Life Club, Order of Eastern Star, a DeMolay mother, a 4-H Leader, Home Demonstration Club, and WMMOA. She and Dad were Worthy Matron and Worthy Patron of Electa#7, OES. These activities brought deeply cherished friendships over the world. Mom loved the traveling of retirement. When recently asked what trip she enjoyed most, she replied, “Aside from China, it was the Alaska Cruise in 2007. We spent the week doing fabulous things together with our whole family”. In 2016, she was honored by Electa Chapter as a 75-year member. At her passing, she was a member for 81 years.
Ever practical, she decided to give up driving. She cherished each visitor who came to see her. She was a gracious hostess to all. Even as writing grew difficult, she still wrote cards of thanks for the smallest gestures. Her gracious spirit showed by recently stating that if she passed away, it should be in warm weather, so attendees were safe on the roads and in a place where parking was convenient.
Mom was preceded in death by parents, Otto Sr. and Olivia Benson; husband of 68 years Warren Sr.; brothers Otto Benson (Ann), John, Elmer and Martin; and most recently, her son Warren Jr. (Skip).
Survivors include a sister, Ruth Drummond, Billings; son Douglas (Nancy); granddaughter Patricia Greer (Patrick) Post Falls, ID; grandson Neil, (Rebecca) and great-grandson Warren DeOlin Heyer of Portland, OR; Chris Heyer, of Cornville, AZ, granddaughter Melissa and (Rick); granddaughter Daarte, TN. She cherished nephews, nieces, and cousins.
Monday, August 8, Garden City Funeral Home will hold viewing from 10-11 a.m. A service at 11 a.m. Internment is at 2 pm. at Missoula Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Missoula Aging Meals on Wheels, Partners Hospice, or First Presbyterian Church.
The family thanks Northwest Home Care Caregivers and Partners staff for special attention given to Mom.