Esther Agnes Werling (nee Meyer), of Olathe, Kansas, died September 9, 2020, at the age of 98.
She was born in Grandfield, Oklahoma, February 13, 1922, to parents Reverend Walter H. and Anna Meyer. Esther was reared in Haven, Kansas, and as a child, attended the Lutheran Grade School.
Esther continued her Lutheran education by attending both St. John’s Academy and St. John’s College in Winfield, Kansas, where she met her future husband and the love of her life, SJC student Dick Werling. Esther treasured her years as a “Johnnie.” Following graduation from SJC in 1941, Esther was called to St. James Lutheran School, Quincy, Illinois, as a teacher at the primary grade level, while Dick enrolled at the University of Kansas to study medicine. With the onset of WWII, Dick enlisted and served in the US Navy and on November 21, 1943, the two were married in Kansas City, Kansas. Once the war ended, the couple eventually settled in Hill City, Kansas, where they reared seven children.
As a loving and devoted wife and mother, Esther excelled in her role as homemaker. She was a wonderful cook and her children still describe her cherry pie as “the best in the world!” Esther enjoyed sewing, painting, crafting, and needlework–and she loved music. Sharing that love of music with her family, Esther encouraged and supported music lessons whether piano, vocal, instrumental, or percussion. She also had a wonderful sense of humor and there was always music and laughter in the Werling household! With her warm and friendly personality, Esther made countless friends over the years while maintaining strong, long-established and loving relationships with her children, grandchildren, and extended family members.
Esther had a deep and abiding faith in her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, which she shared with her family. In 1960, she and Dick were charter members of Grace Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, in Hill City. Esther was very active in the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League and taught Sunday School and pre-confirmation catechism class. She played the organ for Sunday church services and on Saturdays led a Bible class for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Esther also became a spokesperson for assisting Lutheran churches throughout the state of Kansas in starting Sunday School classes for children with disabilities.
As the mother of a son with Down Syndrome, Esther held a deep compassion for children with developmental disabilities. And as a parent seeking assistance in educating and training her son, she was instrumental in obtaining a grant which helped establish the Kobler Center, a facility in Hill City for individuals with disabilities. Esther accepted the responsibility for the position of Director.
Following Dick’s death in 1975 and prior to her retirement, Esther spent eight years as House Mother for Gamma Phi Beta Sorority at the University of Kansas. She then relocated to Fort Scott, Kansas, and during that time used her artistic ability as a crafts demonstrator in the local Walmart. In 2009, Esther moved to the Kansas City area where she resided in an independent living facility. As she required more care, Esther was moved into Nottingham Health and Rehabilitation Center, Olathe, Kansas.
Preceding Esther in death were her parents, her husband Dick, her son Billy, an infant granddaughter, and her three brothers: Reverend Karl Meyer, Arthur Meyer, and Reverend Walter Meyer. She leaves behind four daughters: Patricia Tenner (Allen), Prairie Village, KS; Bonnie Werling Marker, Anaheim, CA; Kristine Wetterhus (Jay), Morton, Il; and, Melinda Werling, Kansas City, MO; two sons: Dr. Richard Werling (Cathy), Fort Scott, KS; and, Reverend Gary Werling (Pam), Gretna, NE; 14 grandchildren; and, 33 great-grandchildren.
A private family service will be held at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, Olathe, Kansas. Interment will be at Memorial Lawn Cemetery, Hill City, Kansas. The family suggests memorial gifts be sent to the St. John’s College Alumni Association, Winfield, Kansas, or to Kobler Center, Hill City, Kansas.