Esther M. Waller, 97, of Edgartown died on December 18 at Windemere.
Esther was the daughter of Daniel C. Keleher and Anna E. Galligan of Canton, Mass. She attended St. John’s School in Canton through high school and then studied briefly at Maltby Business School. She came to Martha’s Vineyard originally in 1934 as a housekeeper for Judge Abner L. Braley and his wife, Marjorie, and companion for their daughter, Charlotte. She and Charlotte would remain friends throughout Charlotte’s lifetime.
Esther married Frederick J. Waller of Edgartown in 1939 but when they separated in 1948 she began a long career as a seasonal waitress, working in many popular resorts such as Pinehurst, North Carolina, Boca Grande and Palm Beach, Florida and Santa Barbara and Palm Springs, California but she always returned to Edgartown in the summer and worked most years at the popular “Kafe” (Edgartown Café) in Edgartown, now the site of The Wharf restaurant.
When she saw a newspaper ad in 1958 saying that barracks at Otis Air Force Base were being sold she bought one, had it barged to the Vineyard and remodeled, and eventually moved back to the Island permanently. For a number of years she had the food concession at the East Chop Beach Club and worked at Munro’s Boston House and The Square Rigger as well. The latter years of her working life were spent as a cook at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School from which she retired in 1983.
The traveling bug never quite left her and in later years she enjoyed many more trips, usually with her cousin Mary O’Hare Corbett. One trip was to Ireland, the home of their grandparents.
She was an independent and capable woman with many talents and interests. Her Irish Catholic religious heritage was an important part of her life and she served multiple terms as vice president of St. Elizabeth’s Guild in Edgartown during its active years.
She leaves a daughter, Marjorie A. (Marna) Waller, and a granddaughter, Robin M. Quick, both of Edgartown, and a brother, Paul E. Keleher, of Canton.
Besides her parents and husband, she was predeceased by her brother Daniel C. Keleher of Canton and sisters Anna D. Harrington of Buzzards Bay, Eloise E. Gay of Brockton, Martha T. Wirzburger of Whitman and Rose Marie Keleher, who died as a child. She was also predeceased by her cousin Mary O’Hare Corbett who was part of the extended family growing up in her grandfather’s house in Canton and more like a sister.She also leaves her cherished best friend of almost 75 years, Rosalie S. Bassett of Edgartown, as well as many nieces and nephews.
A Memorial Mass will be held Saturday, February 5, at 11 am at Star of the Sea Church in Oak Bluffs. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Windemere Resident Activity Fund, The Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living, or The Alzheimer’s Foundation of Cape Cod and the Islands.