In the late evening of Aug. 13, 2020, Esther Gates Bower, 88, of Columbia City, passed peacefully with her family by her side. Esther was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother who lived a life grounded by faith.
Esther was born Dec. 8, 1931, in Marshall County, a daughter of the late Reverend Raymond F. and Iva Bee (Lindley) Hart. She spent her early years in the communities where her father, a Methodist minister, served for the church.
In 1952 after graduating from International Business College, she married Jack Gates, who died Dec. 6, 1996. Jack and Esther raised three children; Laura (John) Lefever, Scott (Phyllis) Gates, and Steve (Laurie) Gates. Esther has eight grandchildren; ten great-grandchildren, who knew her as “Mimi”; and a sister, Alice Virginia Reese.
In 2004, Esther married John R. Bower. John died on April 10, 2015.
Throughout her life, Esther supported numerous causes within her community and had a meaningful impact on many lives. She was an active supporter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Whitley County Community Foundation, Tri Kappa, Columbia City United Methodist Church, American Cancer Society, Whitley County YMCA, Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum, and Parkview Whitley Hospital.
Esther was joyful, pleasant, and loving. She truly enjoyed and lived a wonderful life. She had soft hands, a huge heart, a contagious laugh, and an ability to bring warmth to a room. If you didn’t have the opportunity to get to know her, she would have greeted you with a smile. She would have told you about the kindness, love, faith, or success of her family members. She likely would have prayed for you after meeting you, just to make sure you were in good hands. Her faith was stronger than most can comprehend. She carried herself with composure, pride, and subtle confidence. Esther found happiness in spending time with her family, listening to spiritual music, traveling, playing the piano, puzzles, cheering for Indiana University, playing cards with friends, reading, and generally instilling happiness in others’ lives.
The funeral service is 1 p.m. Tuesday at Smith & Sons Funeral Home, Columbia City. Burial is in the Greenhill Cemetery, Columbia City. Visitation is 11 a.m. until the service Tuesday at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, please direct memorials to the Columbia City United Methodist Church or the Whitley County Community Foundation.