Esther Heath Gros passed away peacefully at her home on October 8, 2020 at the age of 99. She spent her final 24 hours in the arms of her beloved granddaughter, Louisa J.Golicki, and her final moments listening to her favorite hymns with “Angela”, her daughter, Barbara Klockowski. She was born January 31,1921, in Solon NY to Arthur and Mary Shuler Heath. She was predeceased by her husband, Robert C. Gros, her parents, brother Olin Heath, son-in-law John Klockowski, and her lifelong best friend, Jane Carley. She is also survived by and will be greatly missed by her son Fred, and grandchildren Anna, Joseph, Suzanne, and Billy Golicki, all of Cortland.
Esther graduated from McGraw School, received her Bachelor’s degree in Music from Syracuse University and Master’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College. She taught music in the Springfield and McGraw schools for 22 years, was organist-choir director for many years in the McGraw Presbyterian Church, and a long-time piano teacher. “Mrs. Gros” was a well-loved teacher. Many of her students visited and kept in contact with her during her retirement years. These visits brought out that memorable twinkle in her eyes that was seen so many times during chorus
She was a 50-year member of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society, Cortland Retired Teachers Association, New York State Teachers Retirement System and attended the McGrawville Baptist Church. She and the “Lovely Ladies” entertained the residents of the Cortland Nursing Home for many years. She enjoyed playing bridge and making music with and for others. Her extended family and many friends were much loved.
Esther was a light to all that knew her, teaching kindness and thoughtfulness without effort. She found the good in everyone, speaking poorly about no one. She was a true gem and a treasure from the greatest generation. She taught us all about the power of music, the happiness it can bring, memories it can elicit, and unity it sparks. Though her mind began to fail her over her final year of life, she could still recall all of her favorite pieces, and was playing the piano and “encouraging” family to sing and dance along just two weeks prior to her passing. Those that knew Esther knew that “encouraging” meant you really had no choice, but to do as she smiled and asked of you.
A very special highlight in Esther’s final year, was attending the wedding of her granddaughter Louisa, to Mr. Stephen J. Newton, in Watkins Glen, NY. She served as Matron of Honor, smiled ear to ear all day long, and even danced with her granddaughter to a favorite, Billie Holiday’s “I’ll Be Seeing You”. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
The family would like to say a special, heartfelt thank you to Mrs. Olaya Perkins. A dear friend from her days in McGraw, Olaya became a trusted and cherished caretaker to Esther in her late years in Cortland.
Should you wish to make a memorial contribution, Esther would be pleased to have you do so to the McGraw Music Memorial Fund or the McGrawville Baptist Church, 61 Floral Ave, Cortland NY 13045. A memorial service will be held at a later date.
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