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Esther Thorpe

Esther Thorpe

June 8, 1917-March 31, 2013

Esther Hanson Thorpe, 95, of Detroit Lakes, went to heaven on Easter Sunday morning, March 31, 2013, at Oak Crossing in Detroit Lakes.

Esther Hanson Thorpe was born to Arthur and Mabel (Crowser) Hanson on June 8, 1917 in Richwood Township, rural Detroit Lakes. She attended District 7 rural schools and then Detroit Lakes High School, graduating in 1935 as the valedictorian of her class.

Following high school she worked at the Graystone Hotel and the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Detroit Lakes.

She met the love of her life at church in 1935, her husband and lifetime partner, Charles F. Thorpe. They were married in Audubon on June 17, 1938. Charles had recently graduated with a teaching certificate from Moorhead State Teachers College and they moved to Underwood, where he took his first position.

They also spent a few years of their early life together in New York Mills and in Alabama. In 1946 they moved to Deer Creek, where with the financial help of Esther’s father they purchased a grocery store.

In 1961 they purchased the former Grace’s Grocery at Washington and Willow in Detroit Lakes and renamed it Washington Grocery. It truly was the “handiest spot in town.” They operated the store until retiring in 1971.

But there was no retiring for Esther. For many years she sold World Book encyclopedias and Child Craft books in the area. She was fondly known as the World Book lady. She also served as a district and area manager for World Book. Additionally she sold Avon products and was a member of Avon’s President’s Club for many years.

Esther’s faith was the bedrock of her life since she was a child. She taught Sunday school and was the superintendant of the Sunday school at the Evangelical United Brethren Church in Deer Creek.

After moving to Detroit Lakes she served as a trustee and on the administrative board of the United Methodist Church. She also served as president and treasurer of the UMC Women’s group between 1980 and 1995. For many years she was highly active in the Gideon’s Auxiliary and served for a number of years as president and chaplain.

Charles died May 14, 2002.

Esther is survived by five children, Joyce and husband Bernie Bunce of Syracuse, N.Y., John and wife Karen of Minneapolis and Detroit Lakes, Jeanine Montgomery of Shingle Springs, Calif., JoAnn and husband Roger Gaio of Plymouth, James and wife Mary of Eagan; 12 grandchildren; nine great grandchildren; and sister Alyce Vanderpoel of Hutchinson.

In addition to her husband Charles, Esther was preceded in death by a daughter, Bonnie Kay, who died in 1952; a brother Earl in 1943; and brother Roy Hanson in 2012.

Services to honor the life of Esther will be at 11 a.m. Monday, April 8, in the United Methodist Church, 885 Pembina Trail, Detroit Lakes, with Reverend Brenda North officiating.

Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, April 7, with a 7 p.m. prayer service, at the David-Donehower Funeral Home, 609 Hwy 10 E, Detroit Lakes.

David-Donehower Funeral Home is serving the family. Online tributes can be shared at

The family would be honored to have memorials given in Esther’s name to the St. Mary’s Foundation or United Methodist Church.