Nov 11, 1916 - Jul 20, 2014
Longtime Omaha educator and Principal with OPS. Esther was born on November 11, 1916 to Edward E. and Margaret Jones on a farm near Wymore, Nebraska and departed this life in Omaha, Nebraska on July 20, 2014. She was a graduate of Otoe Consolidated High School in Barneston, Nebraska. After teacher training at Peru State College, she completed her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. On August 2, 1939 she married Raleigh A. Pilster of Whitney, Nebraska, who preceded her in death in 2002. She was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church for over 60 years and served as both Sunday and Vacation Bible School teacher. She was also very active in a number of organizations including Delta Kappa Gamma (Past State President), Chapter GF of PEO, Trinity Chapter Order of Eastern Star, Friendship Force, Omaha Retired Teachers, Great Plains Welsh Heritage Museum, Mari Sandoz Museum, the Welsh Society of Nebraska, Task Force of Eastern Nebraska, Keystone Task Force and the Boyd PTA. Esther organized and coordinated the Jones Family Reunions in Wymore, Nebraska for over 30 years. She became a teacher who started in one room schools in rural Gage County, Nebraska and then taught in schools of Neligh, Seward, and Chadron, Nebraska before moving to Omaha and teaching at Jungman, Belle Ryan and Jackson Elementary Schools. She then became an Elementary Principal, first at Yates and Saunders Elementary Schools and then for 21 years she was the Principal at Boyd Elementary School in the Keystone area. As the first principal of the new Boyd School, Esther Pilster created many cohesive forces involving faculty, students, parents and other community leaders to make Keystone a community. For her work in the community, she was honored as the Queen of Keystone in 1978 and in 1997 a park was named for her-the Esther Pilster Park, located at 87th and Boyd Streets. Other honors bestowed on Esther included a key to the City of Omaha in 2006, and in 2008, a listing as an Outstanding Educator by the Omaha World Herald. Esther enjoyed volunteering and giving programs. For most of her retirement, she presented book reviews, programs for professional groups and care centers-often appearing in full costume as the Statue of Liberty, Betsy Ross, a White House maid, a clown, the Easter Bunny and Mother Goose. For many years, she and her husband, Raleigh, appeared as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Esther and Raleigh loved to travel. They visited over 50 countries, spending time on every continent. Some trips were to visit family and acquaintances, some were as part of the Friendship Force and others to participate in education and leadership conferences as a participant and presenter. They also hosted many international guests as part of the Friendship Force. Esther was proud to serve as a Congressional Senior Intern to Washington, D.C. in 1984. As a benefactor, Esther donated the Pilster Ranch near Whitney, Nebraska to the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center at Chadron State College in memory of her husband Raleigh and his parents.
Esther is survived by a sister-in-law, Ruby Jones of Wymore, Nebraska; brother-in-law, Dale Humphrey of California; many nieces, nephews and cousins. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Museum in Wymore, Nebraska, the First Presbyterian Church of Omaha, or the Omaha Community Foundation.
VISITATION begins Thursday at 4pm, with VIGIL SERVICE to follow at 7pm, all at the West Center Chapel. SERVICES Friday, 1pm, First Presbyterian Church, 216 S. 34 St. Interment, Evergreen Memorial Park.
WEST CENTER CHAPEL
78th & West Center 402-391-3900