Esther Rogoff

Obituary of Esther Johanna Rogoff

Esther Johanna Rogoff peacefully let go of this life at the age of 95, on December 31st, 2014. Throughout her life Esther used her intelligence and creativity in many ways. She was an accomplished painter and ceramicist. She designed and built two of the homes she and her family lived in, drawing up blueprints as well as doing much of the building. She served as President of a local chapter of the American Association of University Women. She would have liked to be an architect or a lawyer if had she been born in a later generation. She devoted herself to creating a family, together with her beloved husband of 50 years, William Rogoff, whom she missed greatly over the past 16 years after he passed away in her arms. While her children, Barbara and Jim, were growing up, she made most of their clothing and nurtured them in ways building on her early years as a teacher. Esther became a teacher in a one-room school when she was 16. She was tiny, and some of her pupils were 15-year-old farm boys who were much bigger than her and did not want to be in school. One day, one of them wanted to go hunting with his dad and uncles rather than staying in school, and he tried escaping out a window. Esther got there in time to close the window with the boy half-in and half-out, and then called his family. She had no more trouble with him after that. Esther was a skilled quilter, and made remarkable personalized quilts for baby presents for each of her grandchildren: Luisa, Valerie, and David Magarian, Katelyn Rogoff Herreshoff, and Heather Rogoff (who predeceased her). After 5 quilts, she told Barbara and Jim that they had had enough children. Esther was a creative and accomplished cook and especially enjoyed desserts. One year, she gathered her 5 grandchildren and their families for a massive 3-day birthday party. Nearly every meal — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — was accompanied by a theme cake. One of these spectacular cakes was a 7-layer volcano that actually erupted. Esther had a quick wit, and befriended people everywhere she went. She was a great conversationalist. In her later years she enjoyed making plays on words and joking mischieviously with anyone around her. Esther recently said to her daughter, "What's the use of being 92 years old, if you can't make people laugh?" Her silly humor was a source of fun for her great grandchildren, Solomon, Luna Mae, Kamran, Sophia, and Austin. Esther was born in 1919, and grew up in Nebraska. Her parents, Soren and Jenny, had immigrated from Denmark as teenagers and found each other in Omaha. When Esther was a child, the family moved to the Sand Hills of Nebraska where they worked very hard to survive the Great Depression, raising turkeys. Esther had many stories about how stupid turkeys are. But in one way they were smart -- they sounded an alarm when they saw rattlesnakes. When Esther was a teenager, she killed 13 rattlesnakes in one day -- and got written up in the Omaha newspaper for that feat. How? With a hoe. Why? So they wouldn't hurt her beloved mother or her sisters Edie and Helen or her little brother John. She moved to Riverside where she met and married Bill in 1947. Esther and Bill then moved to South Dakota, where Bill had just gotten a job as professor of entomology. Esther completed her bachelors degree in art there. Bill's posts took her to Australia, Corvallis Oregon, Fresno, and back to Nebraska. Esther and Bill moved to Davis when Bill retired, and Esther organized adventurous trips around the world even into her late 70s. She would pack a tiny travel bag for herself and Bill, with a change of clothes that would work in a variety of climates. They would wait at a nearby air force base for a few days for the next cargo plane that had seats. For $10 each, they would hop on the next plane going out to places like Japan, Korea, Germany. They never knew which destination until it was time to get on the plane. After Billy died, Esther moved to Santa Cruz to be nearer to family. Esther's later years were filled with appreciation for life, for her family, her neighbors, and her friends, especially at Peace United Church of Christ and the Carnation Café of the Senior Center at Louden Nelson. She often wrote herself little notes — one that her daughter recently found said, "I am 95 & cute as the Dickens." Another said, in a shakier hand, "To all the people who have been so good to me, Thank you! I love you. I enjoy life and I enjoy my friends." Memorial services will be held on Sunday February 15 at 1:30 pm, at Peace United Church of Christ (900 High Street). Donations in Esther's memory can be made to the Carnation Café, 301 Center Street, Santa Cruz CA 95060 or to Grey Bears, 2710 Chanticleer Ave, Santa Cruz CA 95065.
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1:30 pm
Sunday, February 15, 2015
Peace United Church Of Christ
900 High Street
Santa Cruz, California, United States
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