FLORENCE – Surrounded by her loving family, Esther Alice Kane went to be with her Lord and Savior on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. She was a godly woman, a mentor to many, but most importantly a loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Even though small in stature, she was a large presence in her family. Her cooking, baking and gardening were just a few of her many talents. Many people were blessed by the plentiful bounty of her garden and her kitchen. She always had a giving heart.
Esther Alice Bitz was born in Box Elder, Montana on Aug. 25, 1926, the tenth of thirteen children born to Heinrich and Markareita Bitz. In her early school years she attended a one room school house on the Lonesome Lake prairie taught by an inspiring teacher who instilled in her the lifelong love of reading. After completing her early school years, she moved to Havre to continue her pursuit of education. She lived with a family there and worked for her room and board. Esther loved school.
In the fall of 1944 after completing her senior year of high school early, she married Kenneth Joseph Kane on Oct. 28, in Havre. They made their home in Marfa, Texas, where Esther worked as a civilian clerk on the Air Force base where Kenneth was a flight instructor. Military moves took them to Biloxi, Mississippi, before honorably discharging and returning to Montana. They settled in Great Falls and then made their home in Havre, Montana, until the fall of 1962, moving to Seattle for two years, before returning to their permanent home in Florence, Montana in 1964.
Esther was an industrious hard working woman. She helped build houses with her husband, including her current home of 53 years. She didn’t just pick paint colors, she did the dry walling and the finishing work. While living in Havre, she raised chickens and sold eggs to Buttrey’s grocery store. She candled and graded each of the eggs. She was a chicken lady most of her life.
In the fall of 1964, Esther went to work for the Missoula Mercantile and continued to work there for 34 years in the cosmetics department. Throughout her employment she made many dear friends both as colleagues and customers. She loved her customers and many would come in and wait until Esther could help them. She had a beautiful spirit and an incredible work ethic.
The greatest joys of her life were her two children, four granddaughters and eight great-grandchildren. Many times she commented how blessed she was to have the family she did.
She was a member of The King’s Christian Church for the past 23 years. She became a Christian in 1953 and taught Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and mentored many women, young and old. She loved to study and teach God’s word. Children loved her, and she loved them too.
Esther was preceded in death by her infant daughter, Marlene; her husband Kenneth; her parents Markareita and Heinrich Bitz; her brothers, Hank Bitz, Albert Bitz, Daniel Bitz, Herbert Bitz, Reinholt Bitz, Fred Bitz; and her sisters, Alvina Conquergood, Martha Couch and Ruth Schwindt.
Esther is survived by her son Patrick (Deb) Kane; her daughter Debbie (Randy) Bakker; granddaughters Corie (Ron) Perrin; Cammie (Andy) Knapp; Janna (Scott) Wyman; and Lacie (John) Simianer. Her great-grandchildren, Hunter Perrin, Hannah Jordan, Kaylee Jordan, Jenna Jordan, Elinor Knapp, Jack Wyman, Sophie Simianer and Hudson Simianer. She is also survived by her half-brothers, Leo Bitz and Russell Bitz; her half-sisters, Irene Holden and Sanda Kinsella, many loving nieces, nephews, friends and her dear kitty “Puff”.
Memorial services will be held on Thursday Dec. 21, at 1 p.m. at the King’s Christian Church, 9830 Valley Grove Drive, Lolo, Montana.
Many thanks to Consumer Direct Care Network Hospice for the loving care provided over the last few months, to all of her wonderful neighbors, especially Mike Smith and Kerry Ueland, Boyd and Wendy Lambson and Cliff and Carol Colwell, and to all of her wonderful friends who watched over her for the past several years. She loved you all. Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.whitesittfuneralhome.com.