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Memories of Esther

Coffee With Es


One of my recent memories of Esther was from the summer of 2006. Esther and I were relaxing after golf, feeling a bit mellow, being satiated with the golf, food and our good friends. We drank countless cups of coffee and we were thinking about the good old days of junior golf at Lakeshore.


We talked about the many juniors that excelled in golf, like Jackie Cannizzo, one of Esther’s daughters, who won everything in the area and now is one of the Top Teachers in the country, working in Atlanta. Denise St. Pierre is the Head Women’s Coach at Penn State and has been there for over 20 years. Tommy Gelsomin is a PGA Professional in Florida. Many of the other juniors acquired a game for a lifetime, had fun with friends and learned the important lessons that golf teaches about courtesy, sportsmanship, patience and honesty.


As time passed, things in the junior program had changed, maybe it was lack of parental involvement or plan, the program was mired in a "fried egg". Esther and I decided that day that the children at the club deserved the same kind of outstanding junior program that our kids grew up with, because you see our grandchildren were now in this program. Esther’s prophetic words that day were "No problem, Yo, you and I can do it." Easy for her to say. Yet I knew that Es, a generous volunteer and a woman of her word, always followed through with wings. Fitting phrase, Esther was the first to give to any charitable cause; she had the heart of an angel. This project was about two things close to her heart, golf and children.


So the work began. Es was a joy to work with, she made every task fun. We began meeting, brainstorming, gathering like-minded volunteers, laughing and gabbing as we conspired. It started to come together with the pieces falling together and gaining support from the club and its’ members.


So the following summer, 2007, came in with a flurry of children, 80 of them to start. We worked through a few glitches and it was perfect. It was wildly successful as I felt like we blasted out of the "fried egg" to within a tap in par. There was one glitch we couldn’t work through that summer. In June Esther was diagnosed with cancer. She saw the program start that summer, but underwent surgery for her cancer, so she was out for the rest of the summer. We worked very hard for her while she was on the mend and she actually came back at the end of the season for a last hurrah and played in the parent/junior with her grandson Nicholas, daughter Kelley, grandson Timmy, and daughter Jackie as the team caddy.


Es was my friend, my golfing buddy and cohort in the junior golf program at Lakeshore; her memory is forever etched in my heart. It is because of Es’s love of golf and children that her family and friends formed this Foundation, so even more children will benefit from Esther’s vision. After golf, I drink a few cups of coffee, but I am filled with comfort and I know Es’s legacy lives on.


- Yolanda Tooley, 2009. A member of the Special Foursome: Esther, Toni Ann, Judy and Yolanda.


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