Marcella G. Esterly was full of generosity and wit

Thursday, August 28, 2014 | 10:03 p.m. CDT; updated 10:40 p.m. CDT, Thursday, August 28, 2014

COLUMBIA – Marcella G. Esterly was the life of the party. She was smart, witty, energetic and loved to share herself with others.

"She had a terrific sense of humor and was always entertaining," said Maggie Spudich, her daughter. "She was very generous, very loyal and was always up to having a good time."

Marcella G. Esterly of Columbia died Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014. She was 97.

Mrs. Esterly was born on Dec. 3, 1916, in Carthage, Mo., to Mr. and Mrs. James H. (Burk) Gilbreath.

Mrs. Esterly was always up for a game of bridge and often had friends over to visit. But she was more than just a hostess and an entertainer; she was also an active member in the Springfield community, an area she adored and where she spent most of her life. Mrs. Esterly spent her time volunteering at the Next to New Shop, a gently used clothing program that she helped start through the Christ Episcopal Church and the American Cancer Society in Springfield.

"If she didn't know you from Adam, she would light up the second she started talking to you," said Adam Spudich, her grandson. "She was always helping others and was so generous."

Family said that Mrs. Esterly gave her time and heart to the community that she loved, and the community loved her back.

"Everyone called her Granny because she insisted on it, and she treated all of my friends like her own grandsons," Adam Spudich said. "She always spoiled us, and I always felt comfortable and safe in her home."

Mrs. Esterly married Albert C. "Deac" Esterly on July 12, 1936. He died in 1988.

"There was never anybody else for her," Maggie Spudich said. "She could never imagine herself without him and spent a long time missing him."

Mrs. Esterly is survived by a daughter, Maggie Spudich, and her husband, Phil, of Columbia; a daughter, Lynn Esterly, of Hawi, Hawaii; and four grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

Her husband, Albert C. Esterly, her brothers James and Marvin Gilbreath and her sisters Amelia Beimdeck and Evelyn Adamson, died earlier.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 8, at Christ Episcopal Church, 601 E. Walnut St., Springfield, Mo.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the A.C. "Deac" Esterly Endowed Memorial Scholarship at Drury University Hospice, 900 N. Benton Ave., Springfield, Mo.,or to the donor's favorite charity.

Supervising editor is Bailey Otto.

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