Esther Marie Melvin Berner, daughter of Harold Norman Melvin and Mary Randolph Melvin, was born at home in Elsmere, Delaware, on November 18, 1923. The family lived on a farm near Newark for 15 years, moving to Seaford in 1938 where her father worked for DuPont introducing an exciting new material - nylon. In 1940 DuPont transferred the family to Pompton Lakes, New Jersey.
Esther attended New York City Art School, followed by working as a fashion designer, illustrator and jewelry designer. Homesick for the home they had built on Hearns Pond before leaving Seaford, the family returned in 1952. Esther worked as bookkeeper for Fleetwood Motors, followed by 10 years at Service Trucking as accountant and tax preparer. She then spent 30 years with Tri Gas & Oil, rising to Vice President of Personnel.
One evening in the late 1980s Esther received a phone call from a friend who asked if she would be interested in meeting this new guy in town. She replied, “tell him to call me” which he did. That first call lasted over an hour and on July 1, 1989, 65 year old Esther married Harry Berner at Gethsemane Methodist Church. They spent 14 happy years together traveling the country in their RV, attending Eastern Star and Masonic functions, as well as reunions of Harry’s WWII ship.
Throughout her life, Esther was committed to serving others; as an active member of three area Methodist churches - Cannon, Gethsemane and St. Johns, she taught bible classes and even drove the bus to bring children to Gethsemane for Sunday school. For over 70 years she was an energetic figure in the Order of the Eastern Star, serving as Worthy Matron of Seaford’s Sussex Chapter #7 during the 1970s and Worthy Grand Matron in 1985-6.
Esther enjoyed life with great gusto all these many years — and on her own terms. She is survived by nieces Rose Elaine Melvin Hall of New Castle, Sharon Esther Melvin Schmidt of Melrose, New Mexico, and nephew David Earl Melvin of Seaford, whose caring presence in her life for 15 years never wavered.
Funeral Services will be on Wednesday, November 6th at 1 PM at the Cranston Funeral Home, 300 N. Shipley St, Seaford, where friends may call from 12 to 1. Burial will be in Cokesbury Cemetery, Reliance.
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