Esther Louise Hendrix

November 1, 1937 ~ October 13, 2018 (age 80)

Esther Louise (Graham) Hendrix was born on November 1, 1937 and passed away on October 13, 2018 at the age of 80, with her family by her side.  Esther was born to Anna Fern (Hixson) Graham and Harold Bruce Graham at Syracuse, Kansas on November 1, 1937.  She was the 5th of five daughters and considered herself a tomboy and the son that Bruce never had.  Sister, Valera (14 years older than Esther) remembers the night that Esther was born, as Valera had to milk 7 cows as Bruce was with Fern at Esther’s birth.  Little sister was already causing problems for her big sisters.  Esther was the typical little sister to her older sisters, always wanting to tag along with everything they did.  Sister Edith recalls that Esther always wanted to tag along on her dates with Fritz.  When sister Valera and Fred Morgan were married, Esther insisted on riding with them to their wedding reception and she even managed to convince the bride and groom that she needed to sit in the front seat of the car between them. Valera states little sister, Esther might have been just a little spoiled by her sisters.

The family then moved from Syracuse, Kansas to Northeast of Lamar, Colorado on a ranch where Bruce raised sheep. When Esther was a teenager the family moved to a ranch/farm near Adena, Colorado in Morgan County.  Esther was a 10 year 4-H member showing both sheep and steers.  In fact, one year at the Morgan County Fair she had an appendicitis attack but insisted on showing her steer before being taken to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Esther graduated from Fort Morgan High School in 1955. Esther’s family lived quite a distance from Fort Morgan.  Therefore, while attending high school in Fort Morgan, Esther lived in a boarding house in Ft. Morgan during the week and would go home on the weekends.  She worked at a bakery in the mornings before school and for a while once she graduated high school.  Esther attended Emily Griffith Practical Nursing Program in Denver, Colorado.  Upon graduation received her LPN licensure in January 1958. 

Esther met Ray at a rodeo in Fort Morgan in 1953.  Ray states that he even won the calf roping that day and received his first belt buckle.  From that day forward, they began to date.  Ray was soon to be drafted into the army in 1956 and sent to Korea for two years.  He and Esther continued to communicate by mail while he was in the service.  He even purchased her wedding rings while on leave one weekend in Japan.  Upon returning home from the service Esther and Ray once again began their courtship.  Ray was finally able to use those wedding rings.  An interesting thing happened prior to their wedding, as Esther’s mother, Fern was bitten by a rattlesnake nine days before Esther and Ray’s wedding and had to wear bedroom slippers to their wedding as her foot was too swollen to wear shoes.

Ray and Esther’s first home together was in Hillrose, Colorado where Ray worked for a local farmer/rancher.  In 1959 Dana Rae was born and they became a family of three.  Later they moved to Sterling where Ray managed a feedlot for Hamil Brothers.  In 1962 Loren was added to the family.  At that time, they lived in the Padroni, Colorado area and Ray managed a farm/ranch for Dr. Tennant.  Esther worked in Sterling as a nurse at a Doctor’s office.  A few years later they moved to the Lazy D Ranch south of Cheyenne, where Ray managed the Lazy D Grazing Association.  In 1968, Ray was once again asked to work for Hamil Brothers, as the ranch foreman and the family moved 20 miles southeast of Holyoke on the NEBCO Ranch.  Upon moving to Holyoke, Esther worked at the nursing home in Holyoke as a nurse for several years.  Eventually going to work at Melissa Memorial Hospital in Holyoke as a nurse on the floor and in later years worked at the specialty clinic and in medical records.  After 50 years of holding her nursing license, she retired from nursing in 2008.  Her retirement gift (which was a joke) from Ray, was insulated coveralls and work gloves.  Pretty clear what he had in mind for her.

Esther loved to work in her yard and flower garden and to can the items from her garden.  She was so thrilled with her “Charlie Brown” straggly apple tree this year. It had very few branches, but loaded with the best tasting apples, she even had to brace it up, it had so many apples.   She loved being outside and helping Dana and Loren with their horse, sheep and steer projects. When Ray would practice roping she was the gateman on the roping shoot until Dana and Loren became old enough to run it. Esther always made sure when they worked cattle or moved them that the crew had plenty to eat.  Whether it was a full meal or snacks of her famous chocolate cake, scotcheroos, brownies or coffee cake.  In her earlier years she worked by the guys side usually running the vaccination gun. She reminded them that she was a nurse and knew how to give a shot whether to a human or a calf.   She also helped with calving or by bringing up the rear, when moving cattle with the pickup and trailer.  Not only was Esther a nurse to the public, but between Loren and Ray they kept her plenty busy as their personal nurse with their injuries and illnesses.  Esther collected Hesston National Finals belt buckles and had the complete set.  Ray would give her a Hesston belt buckle every year for Christmas.  It was always a joke to try to disguise the wrapping of the buckle to try and trick her.  But, she also had it figure it out and knew which package had the buckle in it.  One year the buckle was even wrapped inside of several boxes and she still knew it was the belt buckle.

Approximately, five years ago Esther was diagnosed with macular degeneration in her eyes.  This limited her vision.  However, she still managed to do everything, even the books for the ranch while having to use a magnifier for most of it.  Esther loved to watch all the grandkids compete with their livestock projects at county fairs and was so proud of all their activities and accomplishments, even when her vision limited her ability to clearly see them.

Esther loved to attend garage sales and auctions.  Ray always knew she would come home with some kind of “bargain”!  She also liked to go to the casinos to play the slot machines.  One of the last trips that Dana and Esther took together was Memorial Day weekend, when they traveled to Syracuse, Kansas to decorate the graves of her parents and family members.   Esther decided they also needed to go on to Dodge City to the casino for the weekend.  Two years ago, as a Mother’s Day and Birthday gift, Dana treated Esther to a trip to Las Vegas to attend the National Finals Rodeo and attend a George Strait concert and of course, visit the casinos.  George Strait was one of Esther’s favorite singers and she loved attending his concert.

Esther was diagnosed just a month ago with cancer.  The cancer was very fast advancing and was untreatable.  She went to be with her Lord and Savior on October 13, ,2018 with her family by her side.  One day after their 60th Anniversary.  The morning after Esther’s passing two of her Grandchildren stated that Grandma was in heaven right then making her famous homemade biscuits and gravy.  But, she had to hurry, as there were garage sales to get to and she had to get to the casino later in the day as there was a slot machine calling her name.

Esther was proceeded in death by her parents, Bruce and Fern Graham and sisters Eileen Scheibe and Lois Shank and many other family members.

Esther is survived by her husband of 60 years, Ray; daughter, Dana Barth and son, Loren Hendrix (Patty) all of Holyoke; grandchildren; Justin Sherwood (Toni) of Yoder, Colorado, Brandon Sherwood of Castle Rock, Colorado, Brittany Sexson (Sage) of Sharon Springs, Kansas, Tanner Barth of Wilmington, North Carolina and Taylor Hendrix of Holyoke; great grandchildren; Addiley Sexson, Rylan Sherwood, Reagan Sexson and Aureli Sherwood.  In addition, she is survived by her sisters; Edith Helmer and Valera Morgan both of Marion, Kansas along with many nieces, nephews, cousins and many dear friends.

A memorial service was held at the First Christian Church in Holyoke, Colorado on October 20, 2018 at 2 P.M.  The service was officiated by Todd Combs and Baucke Funeral Home were in charge of the arrangements. 

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