OSAGE CITY, Kan. – It is with a heavy heart that we commemorate the death of our mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt and sister Esther M. (Trendel) Buell. She left this world peacefully on March 7, 1925 at her home in Peterson’s Assisted Living, Osage City, Kan., of natural causes at the age of 97. Esther was born on March 7, 1925 on her family’s farm near Michigan Valley. Kan., to Joseph and Erna (Schmidt) Trendel.
She had three brothers, Edward, Dean and Bob, and two sisters, Francis and Margaret. All preceded her in death except Bob, who was Esther’s closest in age. They had a special bond. They all lost their mother Erna in 1934 when Esther was 9 years old. Grandpa refused to separate the children (as his sisters advised) and the eldest child and daughter, Francis, came back to the farm to help Grandpa raise the children. Francis was a loving and caring presence throughout her life, as we who were her children can attest. We are all grateful to Aunt Sissy for this as we are the recipients of all this love and care.
Esther graduated from Michigan Valley High School in 1943, and she continued to happily go back to all the school meetings while they were going on. She worked for the Santa Fe Railroad and at the Forbes Air Force Base depot in Topeka, Kan., where she met Dave’s father, Eugene Tolle. David was born in 1946. This marriage ended in divorce, and in 1955 Esther Russell married Israel of Overbrook, Kan. You had a child, Terri. That marriage ended in divorce, and in 1962 she married Ervin Buell after moving Dave and Terri to Topeka.
Esther has worked all her life with short breaks. She was a receptionist for the Cotton O’Neil Clinic, Topeka, and for Dr. Rex Wright, Chiropractor. She sold insurance for Mutual of Omaha, where she met Erv. This marriage resulted in a move to Olathe, Kan in 1966. Esther worked for the Hyer Boot Company and also ran the Hedrick Land Title Company at Olathe Square for many years.
After her divorce from Ervin Buell, she moved to Overland Park, Kan., and began her single life. She ended up working as a night receptionist at The Atriums of Overland Park, a position she held for 17 years and retired at the age of 87. There she made many friends and experienced many adventures in this rotating shift, where she was often the only employee after the kitchen was closed.
Esther loved music and had a beautiful singing voice. When asked what she would have liked to be, she said “play the piano and sing”. She sang at weddings and funerals and loved karaoke. She always dressed smartly and took special care of her clothes and shoes, she loved shoes! Her hair and skin were the envy of all, and she passed on her love of all things shiny to Terri. She loved to dance. She traveled with Dave and Karen and Terri and Lawson and was involved in all their activities.
When she could no longer live on her own due to health issues and underwent rehab at Peterson’s Nursing Home after a fall. She then moved to Peterson’s Assisted Living in April 2018. There she found another family who loved her, starting with Tricia Gundy, who encouraged us to take Esther in. It was the best decision we could have made for Mom as she received love and care from everyone who worked there. Tricia recognized Mon’s love for music and in 2019 spent many hours working with her on a song for a talent show related to the Osage City fair and was her accompanist. Mom won her age group and was so excited about this $50 bill! Tricia, along with Robert Brenner and Tricia’s collaborators Tammie Butler, Sonya Whitmore, Mona Smith, Chelsea Gragg, Nancy Lamb, Zona Tucker, Karen Grubb, and Kaitlin Vandevord, became Esther’s family, as did David and me. Robert was Mom’s co-star, watching from the couch in the lobby. Young men from Tricia’s church came in to interact with the residents, playing cards and Yahtzee with Esther. Mom was safe from COVID-19 there as they made it through the pandemic under the watchful eye and sacrifice of Tricia and her staff. Peterson’s is a very special place and we were very blessed to have her with these loving people who have also become our friends and family. We know they mourn with us.
At Christmas 2021 we put mom in the hospice. Tricia hired the Avalon Hospice to take care of her. These caring and kind-hearted people also became family for mom. The Avalon Angels are Amy Easum, Ikisha Reed, Morgan Musick, Carrie Joseph, Caroline Morrison, Leila Hayden and Tristan Willits. Our heartfelt thanks also go to her, her compassionate care helped Mama in the last 9 months on earth.
For someone who lost his own mother so early, we have never ceased to be amazed at her ability to love and certainly blessed by her presence as our mother. She was relentless in her protection of us and nothing stopped her from doing the best she could for us. Aside from always being a full-time employee somewhere (except for the first five years of Terri’s life), she was an exceptional homemaker and cook. She made our house a home and always welcomed all of our friends with open arms, many of whom still considered her their second mother. She was involved in all activities we participated in. Always willing to help with the preparations for a big party, cleaning and cooking. She also stayed with the cleanup after the party. She was always present in our lives, in all functions. She especially loved Christmas in Bixby, Oklahoma with Jeff and his family, as did all of us. She will be missed especially during the holidays.
Esther was primarily a loving mother to David Tolle (Karen) and Terri Israel-Barlow (Lawson); grandmother of Dave’s son Jeff Tolle and his wife Jocelyn; great-grandmother of Jared, Jessica and Jeremy Tolle; step-grandmother of Lawson’s daughter Heather Perkins (Harry); great-grandmother of Kody Kalb, Kristopher Carson, Clayton Carson, Hannah Grace Carson, Alex Carson and Jacob Spicer; Great-great grandmother of Paisley, Stella and Kendall Ray. She loved her siblings and the families they all had. She loved all her nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews very much. We spent many weekends in the country, from Topeka to Osage County and from Olathe to Osage County. She was always ready and willing to help anyone who needed a hand, a loving shoulder to cry on, a mentor, a listening ear, or a loving heart.
A memorial service will be held to celebrate Esther’s life on Saturday, November 26 at 11:00 am at the Lamb-Roberts-Price Funeral Home, 730 Western Heights Dr., Overbrook. The inurnation will follow at Overbrook Cemetery. The family welcomes friends at 10 a.m. before the service hour.
Memorial donations can be made to Avalon Hospice or Peterson Assisted Living and mailed to Lamb-Roberts-Price Funeral Home, PO Box 268, Overbrook, KS 66524. Condolences can be left at www.lamb-roberts.com.