Esther Novella Maiwald, 93In the 1990s, Esther was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. As the disease progressed, she shared a home with her daughter. In 2007, she moved to St. Brigid's at Hi-Park in Red Wing. She died there on Wednesday, Nov. 30.
Esther Novella Leonhardt Maiwald was born Oct. 18, 1918, in a log cabin near Kelliher, Minn. She was the fifth child of German Ellis Island immigrant Otto Leonhardt and his wife, Anna nee Augustine. In 1916, the Leonhardt family had moved from Minneapolis to Koochiching County in northern Minnesota. Through a government homestead land program, Otto and Anna purchased 160 acres of land for $1.25 per acre.
Esther shared many interesting stories with her family and friends about life on the homestead. She would recall lying in bed as a child and listening to the timber wolves howl in the distance. There were no doctors or churches; school classes were held in a neighbor's home. When a family member got sick, Ma would get out her thick medical book and diagnose the problem. The family lived off the land, and each family member contributed to their survival. The Leonhardt children hunted, fished, and picked wild berries; Ma canned the meat and fruit for winter. To earn extra money, Pa would travel to North Dakota and work in the wheat fields. In the winter, he would cut pulp wood.
At an early age, Esther developed a love for books and learned to read by the age of 4. She excelled in school completing two grades in 1 year. As a young girl, she dreamt of becoming a teacher. But, times were tough, and after completing 8th grade she was forced to look for a job.
On Nov. 3, 1938, she married Alvin Maiwald. The couple farmed near Lake City. They later divorced. Esther helped support the family by selling eggs and weaving rugs. In 1966, she moved to Zumbrota and, in partnership with her daughter, purchased Elm's Apparel. The store was renamed Corner Dress Shoppe. Esther retired from the business in 1984.
Esther enjoyed writing short stories and had numerous published in various magazines. She had a passion for gardening and chose to grow flowers rather than vegetables. She referred to flowers as "food for the soul."
In the 1990s, Esther was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. As the disease progressed, she shared a home with her daughter. In 2007, she moved to St. Brigid's at Hi-Park in Red Wing. She died there on Wednesday, Nov. 30.
Esther's spirit lives on in her three children: Janet (Duane) Anfinson, Papillion, Neb.; Floyd (Virginia) Maiwald, Golden, Mo.; Mary Anne Maiwald Moechnig, Zumbrota, Minn; nine grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren.
In respect to Esther's wishes, there will be no visitation or funeral. Memorials are suggested to the First Congregational Church, 455 East Ave., Zumbrota, MN 55992.
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