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Esther Bishop

Mother passed tonight. I was notified this morning that she was in the hospital. I am so grateful that my brother, Joseph, and daughter, Sara, could be with her. If I had wings I could not have made it in time.

Esther Sarah (Hill) Bishop, age 98

November 15, 1924 – April 3, 2023

Esther was the ninth child of eleven children (seven girls and four boys) of Allen Emmer Hill and Esther Cecelia Juhl, born in Grand Island, Nebraska. Her earliest memories are of their home above the tailor shop where both her parents earned a living. She particularly remembers an airplane parked at the bottom of the stairs that she says may have been her father’s sister’s, a female pilot!

Her fondest memories are of the barn dances where she often had two dance partners tossing her back and forth between them.

Esther was an indomitable independent ambitious spirit with good business sense. She ran a Greyhound franchise in Sunnyside, Washington that moved freight and people. Next, she purchased the Greyhound franchise in Richland, Wa. This was before UPS & FedEx and she combined that with a taxi service. 

She also purchased an “A house” which was a two story, 3 bed, 1 bath, full basement duplex across the street from the bus station. Esther turned one side into an apartment downstairs and rented out the upstairs bedrooms to single men, making the house pay for itself. She could literally walk to work and check on her children when necessary.

Esther was active in the chamber of commerce and claims that John F Kennedy personally asked her to be a liaison between Hanford Atomic Works and the City of Richland. We did attend the dedication of the newest reactor at Hanford where JFK spoke in 1963. 

As a divorced mother still raising two boys, Esther, relocated her family from Richland, Washington to Kent, Washington (greater Seattle area). There she purchased a piece of property and moved a mobile home onto it. At that time mobile homes were not allowed anywhere but in mobile home parks. Mother won that battle clearing the way for others.

The affects of spinal surgeries, for a car accident combined with years of lifting heavy packages, left her disabled and she found she could not support her family on her Social Security and SSI checks alone. Men and women were not paid social security at the same rate in those days, even though they had worked as much, and Esther took on the fight to correct that inequity. 

Esther was also very active in the Women’s League of Voters and the Democratic Party. She was instrumental in campaigns for Senators Adam Smith and Patty Murray and has photos with Adam Smith and Governor Christine Gregoire. 

Retirement might slow down most people, but when Esther moved into senior housing she found the conditions to be well below acceptable standards. She organized the seniors, and, with her ambition, contacts, and successes, they got much needed parking, and long overdue improvements, done to the properties she lived in, and worked with, in King County.

Esther leaves behind four children: Larry Leighton (Hawaii), Melissa Dunlap (Montana), Joseph Bishop (Washington) and Bruce Bishop (Idaho). She has seven grandchildren and eighteen great grandchildren. She has one remaining younger sister, Betty O’Nele (Nebraska).

Our thanks to Esther’s guardian, Sarah Mills, and Judson Park, Des Moines, Washington caregivers who have lovingly cared for our mother for a number of years.

Enjoyed twice weekly Zoom calls right up to the end.

1973 mother in MY DRESS. She was 49. Her favorite photo blown up and pride of place on her wall.

Last August, Sara and I with mother at Judson Park.

Mother and Senator Adam Smith

Mother and WA governor Gregoire