Esther's Story

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Esther Mary Dillenbeck Prudden, 101, a longtime Lockport resident, died on September 19, 2017 at the Daughters of Sarah Nursing Center in Albany, NY. Born on July 7, 1916 in Buffalo to Arvin J. and Mary Benham Dillenbeck, Esther was the third of five children and the first girl in the family. She grew up as a tomboy. She was an excellent student and graduated from Cornell University in 1937 with a B.S. in Home Economics. She remained a proud and loyal alumna all her life and was the Woman's Class of '37 president for about 35 years. After graduating, Esther worked for four years on the administrative staff at Vassar College.
On Valentine's Day in 1942 Esther married William O. Prudden. She then moved to Lockport, NY to create a home with Bill and raise a family. Bill took up his life's work with the Prudden and Kandt Funeral Home while Esther began a long career of volunteer service in the community. Esther was a vibrant woman who lived her life to the fullest. She loved her family, she didn't miss a school concert or program that her children participated in. She loved her friends, anything they needed she would try to provide. She loved her community and involved herself wholeheartedly in community work. She didn't just belong to an organization, she gave it her all by serving as an officer or volunteering in some significant way.
She has three children, Ann Benham (Mike D'Attilio) in Albany, NY, Douglas Neil in San Francisco, CA, and Gary William (Constance Turner) in Sparks, NV, Ann and Mike have two children, Mary Benham Cady (Bryan) and Douglas Prudden D'Attilio (Tabitha Yelle). Mary has two children, Connor Michael and Mackenzie Ann. Douglas and Tabitha are expecting a baby boy early in November. Son, Doug is in a long and loving relationship with his girlfriend, Joy Hahn, of San Francisco, CA. Gary has two children, Erik Robert (Lindsarae Klaes) and Emily Ashby. Emily has a daughter, Belle Mae.
Esther lived an active and remarkable life for over a century. Some of her activities include the choir at the First Presbyterian Church, serving on the Board of the Lockport YWCA, election to the Lockport chapter of Zonta International, the Board of the Lockport Presbyterian Home, the Lockport College Women's Club, Board of the Eastern Niagara Hospital where she also volunteered for 15 years in the ambulatory surgery area, the Lockport New Century Club (35 years), and the Board of Wyndham Lawn Home. Esther was a member of Daughters of the American Revolution, the Daughters of 1812, the Dillenbeck Family Association, the Lockport Camera Club, and she was a founding member (1948) of the Modern Mother's Club. She was involved with a myriad other clubs and organizations too numerous to list.
In 1982, Esther was honored at an International Women's Decade Luncheon in the field of Humanities.
Esther collected coins and beautiful old bottles. She loved to travel, visiting every continent except Antarctica. She visited over 60 countries and 30 islands photographing most of them extensively. She gave numerous travelogues to various organizations and for the local television station. Esther played tennis and golf and when she became older she walked over a mile every day picking up trash along the way. She also enjoyed reading, crossword puzzles, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
For twenty years or so, Seventh Lake in the Adirondacks was the family vacation spot with days filled with mountain climbing, hiking, boating, swimming, eating cookies known as Shoetaps, and visiting the dump at night to see the rummaging black bears. After Bill's death in 1966, her summer vacations were spent in Hague or Silver Bay on Lake George.
As Esther herself said, "I've had an interesting life...it all turned out better than I expected."
Her death leaves a tremendous void in the lives of her family and friends, but she will be remembered with much love. She will be buried during a private service in Lockport and a memorial service will be planned for sometime in the spring when it is possible for family members to get to Lockport.
Donations in Esther's memory can be made to the First Presbyterian Church, 21 Church St., Lockport, NY 14094, the Lockport Presbyterian Home, 305 High St., Lockport, NY, Lockport Meals on Wheels, 327 High St., Lockport, NY 14094; or to a charity of one's choosing.
Published on September 24, 2017
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