Esther E. (Graham) Givens, 95, of Kokomo, died Friday, January 7, 2022, at home after suffering cancer of the salivary gland. The fifth of 11 children born to Charles and Bertha (Zimmerman) Graham, Esther was born June 24, 1926, in Howard County. She married William E. Givens on June 24, 1951.
The valedictorian of the Clay Township High School Class of 1944, she loved learning and trying new things. As a young woman, she worked at Union Bank and Trust in Kokomo, and was again a teller at Central National Bank when her children were school-aged. The bulk of her career was with the U.S. Postal Service as a rural mail carrier. She knew all seven of Howard County’s rural routes, and trained new carriers on rural routes as well. She cared about the people on her routes and enjoyed delivering the mail.
Throughout her life, Esther participated in many organizations, most especially as a member of Southside Christian Church and its Christian Women’s Fellowship. A renowned baker, she put her extensive baking skills to work by making goodies, including her famous cinnamon rolls, raspberry pies, lemon cookies, and dinner rolls, for fundraisers and church meals.
A proud and loving mother, she encouraged her children by serving as her son’s Cub Scout leader and chaperone for her daughter’s marching band and speech team events. For nearly a decade, she was a 4H club leader. She felt giving back to a program that she had participated in as youngster was important. Esther also supported her husband Bill’s interest in clocks as a member of the Minute Hands, the auxiliary of the National Association of Clock and Watch Collectors. She and Bill enjoyed square dancing. She belonged to the local chapter of the American Sewing Guild, and relished developing her skills in a lifelong hobby, which included making clothes for the family, such as matching flag shirts and hats for her and Bill.
Along with baking and sewing, she enjoyed gardening, foraging for wild mushrooms and black raspberries, walking at the mall with “the Golden Girls” group, working jigsaw puzzles, and playing games, especially dominoes, euchre and hand and foot. One of her card groups had been playing together regularly for 50 years. She loved butterflies, frogs, smooth rocks, weenie roasts, and walking in the woods, and giggled when she told saucy jokes. She loved a good party, especially if she could bring goofy door prizes, and hosted many kids’ New Year’s Eve parties and family celebrations. Esther planned the best road trips (with snacks after Greentown), and loved to travel to see family and friends near and far. One special trip to Alaska made her long for a sun-ripened Indiana tomato, like the ones in her garden. Esther’s garden often included strawberries, one of her favorite fruits, and pumpkins, so she could have fried pumpkin blossoms. She also loved youth sports, especially baseball and high school basketball, and had all-sports tickets for many years.
She is survived by her son Mark Givens and his wife Karen (Oie), North Olmsted, Ohio and daughter Holly Givens and her husband David Carr, Turners Falls, Massachusetts, and three grandchildren: William P. Givens (North Olmsted, Ohio), Michael R. and his wife Sarah E. Givens (Painesville, Ohio), and Sarah R. Givens (Middleburg Heights, Ohio), and six great-grandchildren: Philip, Daniel, Esther, and Anna Givens (Painesville, Ohio), and Nathan Cummings and Owyn Givens-Wozniak (Middleburg Heights, Ohio); sisters Ruth Anderson (Denver, Indiana) and Sue Sheffield (Bedford, Virginia) and three brothers James Graham (Glen Ellyn, Illinois), Robert Graham, (Bennettsville, South Carolina) and Paul Graham (Bridgewater, Virginia) along with numerous nieces and nephews and their children, many of whom considered Esther a second mom.
She was preceded in death by Bill, her beloved husband of 60 years, who died in April 2012.
A memorial service will be held at 2 pm Friday June 24, 2022, at Shirley & Stout Funeral Home & Crematory, 1315 W. Lincoln Road, with Pastor Karen Buckley officiating. Friends are invited to visit with the family from 12 pm to 2 pm on Friday at the funeral home. Memorial contributions can be made to the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library or to We Care, Kokomo. Messages of condolence may be left online at www.shirleyandstout.com.