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November 16, 2001

The death of Esther Clark the other day at the age of 101 robbed this community of another figure from the early days of this part of the Cherokee Outlet. Esther was a colorful, upbeat lady who spoke with clarity as she related interesting vignettes from the era after the opening of the Outlet on September 16, 1893. Esther was the daughter of the late Henry H. and Etta Isham. Her father was sheriff of Noble county in the 1920s. He moved from his farm into Perry and built a comfortable home for his family at Ninth and Locust. (The home is now owned by Jim and Linda Franklin.) Laura and I lived across the street from Mrs. Isham for several years and we learned a new appreciation of that family.

By coincidence, Mabel Eby shared with me just last week a scrapbook and historical narrative dealing with her brother, Edgar Albuquerque Warner, who died in 1997 at the age of 90. The narrative was written by Mabel. One of the many fascinating tales from that manuscript tells about a day when Edgar was a student at a rural Noble county school, Pioneer District 40. “A young lady just out of high school, Esther Isham, was the teacher at Pioneer school for the 1918-19 term,” Mabel tells us. Here’s the rest of that story, in her own words:

“In her card to Edgar on his 90th birthday, Esther wrote, ‘Edgar, it was a pleasure to have you as one of my many pupils. Now, of course, you remember this, when some of you older boys went up into the belfry and pulled up the rope so I couldn’t ring the bell to call the children in from their noon hour. I’d never taken psychology so didn’t know what to do. The Lord was with me. How was I going to punish boys as big or bigger than I?

“‘I conceived of the idea to call the children in, call classes to order and leave you up there. Directly you began to come down one at a time. I ignored you all the entire afternoon. Even in class I let on you weren’t there and praise the Lord it never happened again.’” Her discipline evidently worked pretty well. Edgar became a nationally recognized figure in his chosen field, and we’ll have more to say on that subject later.

Esther spent a great portion of her long life teaching youngsters their ABC’s and other important basics. In addition to that, her sweet smile, graciousness and friendly manner were characterisics that all of us could emulate in our own lives. In Esther’s case, she endeared herself to the many hundreds of young people and adults with whom she came in contact. I respected her and felt blessed to have an opportunity to know her.

Congratulations to the Chamber of Commerce board of directors for their choices in staffing the organization. There was a great sense of loss when Wally Schieffer completed his second one-year term as president of the chamber. At the same time, the executive director, Penny Murrow, resigned to take a position in Wally’s real estate business and Sheila Habben, administrative assistant, moved to the YMCA as a fitness director. Since then, Kaylen Martens has been hired to replace Sheila and Carolyn Briegge has been named to replace Penny as executive director. Board members also chose Rick Tearney to succeed Wally as president; Cindy Rice, vice president; Glenda Mittasch, secretary; and Connelly Wade, treasurer. Things seem to be in good hands again at the Perry Chamber of Commerce, and we wish all the best to the new folks.