Esther Alice Hergenrader

Honored by:Rebecca Fong
Brick location:E:6  map

Esther Alice Forsberg was born April 28, 1911, in Higbee, Colorado to immigrant parents John Forsberg (From Sweden) and Jenny Jacobsen (From Norway). She had three brothers and one sister.

Esther had brown hair that she wore short with big waves. She had piercing blue eyes and was a strong woman. Esther quit high school and married Henry Hergenrader (nickname Tobe) on August 30, 1927 when she was 16 and he was 23. She was unable to get her parents permission and being under age they eloped to Ordway, Colorado. At the time of their marriage, Tobe was a farmer and his brothers lived with him. Esther not only had a husband to cook and clean for, but the brothers as well. She also cooked for the threshing gangs in the Fall when the gangs traveled from farm to farm to thresh the wheat. Esther was a good cook and passed that talent down for generations. She baked her own bread and pies. She also churned butter, made cottage cheese, and canned fruits and vegetables. Her daughter, Elida, remembers fondly making snow ice cream in the Winter. They would collect clean snow and mix it with cream, sugar, vanilla, and food coloring. In addition to working in the house, she helped farm. It was a lot of responsibility for a 16 year old. When she was in her eighties she said she had gotten married too young.

During the early 1930's they lived through the Dust Bowl. When Esther was 76 years old she spoke of this time with tears streaming down her face. She remembered how their cows died from breathing in the dust.

Esther and Tobe had four children. Esther Elida Hergenrader was born October 17, 1928. Betty June Hergenrader was born October 5, 1930. Henry Edward Hergenrader was born December 30, 1932. Eleanor Lee Hergenrader was born August 3, 1934. All four children were born at her mother's home and delivered by the same doctor.

Tobe went on to work for the W.P.A. and then the Santa Fe railroad. Tobe died of a heart attack at work when Esther was only 48 years old. She never remarried. She had a rail pass from the Santa Fe that enabled her to travel all over the U.S. for free. Esther enjoyed traveling. She traveled to the Scandinavian countries, Hawaii, and to the Holy Land. Every year she would visit us in California. We remember her sitting on our couch in one of her floral dresses with a big rhinestone pin on it. She was forever crocheting dollies. She would have the instructions laying next to her on the couch and her hands would be flying.

She was a dedicated member of the First Baptist Church of La Junta all her life. She held many offices there such as Deaconess and Treasurer. In addition, she taught Sunday school for many years. She had a red and white 1957 Chevy station wagon that they called "Mom's Taxi." It had a big steering wheel like a bus and she would have a fit if anyone drove it over 35 mph. For years, she served as a taxi driver to those in need. She would drive the elderly to appointments or to do their grocery shopping.

She worked as a sales clerk for many years at Woolworth's two blocks from her house. When we were little we would visit her at work and she would buy us cherry Coke's at the lunch counter. She retired from Woolworth's in 1977.

She was a member of AARP and volunteered for RSVP along with many other organizations.

A large house on main street was her home since Tobe's death. She purchased it with her mother at the time. In that house, it seemed time had stopped. She had the same black and white television for approximately 35 years. Her bedroom set was from the 1940's . She had two china cabinets filled depression glass and other treasures. Being a very frugal person she saved everything and was somewhat of a pack rat.

Esther had seventeen grandchildren, many great-grandchildren, and even some great, great, grandchildren. She was the matriarch of huge family. When she was in her seventies, a thief stole her purse right off her arm and kept running. She chased him for a far as she could. There wasn't much money in her purse but he had stolen all the pictures of her grandchildren.

She was ill the last four years of her life, but even during this time she continued to help others. She crocheted lap robes for people in the nursing home. She belonged to a missionary circle that provided a gift for every person in the nursing home every Christmas. She died February 9, 1995 and was buried beside her husband.

Esther was a woman who made the decision as a young girl to take on great responsibility. She raised four successful children as a farmers wife during the Dust Bowl. She lost a husband during mid-life and went on to support herself and her mother. She was dedicated to her church, her community, and helping others. She had boundless energy wonderful spirit and great wisdom. Was she a heroine? In every sense of the word. Her everyday actions as a homemaker and the way she led her life devoted to others is noble. We, her loving famly, applaud her valuable life's work and pay homage it to her by donating a brick in her name to the Plaza of Herines at Iowa State University.

Donated by:
Rebecca J. Fong (nee Boeck)
Esther E. Boeck
Raynell L. Boeck
Roxanne E. Spizzirri (nee Boeck)
Rick E. Boeck
Rory R. Boeck