Esther A. Lees, 86, of The Keystone Cedars in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and longtime resident of Marion, Iowa, died Saturday, December 14, 2019, at UnityPoint St. Luke’s Hospital under the care of hospice. The family will greet friends from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 18, 2019, at Murdoch-Linwood Funeral Home & Cremation Service in Cedar Rapids. A Celebration of Life will follow at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday at the funeral home. Burial will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday at Hayes Cemetery in Toledo, Iowa.
Esther was born on December 2, 1933, in Marshalltown, Iowa, the daughter of James and Joy (Lewis) Hayes. She graduated from Toledo High School in 1951. Esther went on to study home economics at Iowa State University and graduated in 1955. She was united in marriage to Stephen Cree in June of 1954. On November 3, 1973, Esther married Harry P. Lees, Jr. She worked for AC Nielsen in Chicago before teaching in Massena, Iowa, Clearfield, Iowa, and lastly at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids.
She was a member of First United Methodist Church in Marion, where she held offices, and was active in United Methodist Women, and the bell choir. Esther enjoyed gardening, cats, and playing dominos and cards. She was known for taking pictures at family events and dating and labeling them to send out to family members. Esther and Harry hosted foreign students from Coe College, and later refugees, especially Choi Nguyen. She was known for her witty sense of humor. Esther will be dearly missed.
Survivors include her children, Melinda Cree-Anthony of Des Moines, Iowa, Leisa Rosche of Cedar Rapids, Cynthia (David) Rosche of Euless, Texas, Yvonne Becher of Riverside, Iowa, Yvette (Roland) Vargovich of Buford, Georgia, Mary Kay (Tom) Hennessy of Fayetteville, North Carolina, Marty (Cindy) Lees-Daughtery of Aurora, Colorado, Debbie (Jim) Lane of Howard, Kansas, Judy (Dennis) Johnson of Owatonna, Minnesota, Susan Lees (Robin Burrs) of Fayetteville, North Carolina, Rebecca Lees of Colorado, and David (Robin) Lees of Urbana, Iowa; 18 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents, J. Don “J.D.” and Joy Hayes; husband, Harry P. Lees, Jr., in 2008; son-in-law, Charles Cree-Anthony; sister, Ruth Elaine Starr in 2017 and Ruth’s husband, Walter Starr; and great-granddaughter, Janet Lane.
Memorials may be directed to the Alzheimer’s Association, SAINT Cat Rescue & Adoption Center, or St. Luke’s Hospice.
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