Proverbs 31:10: “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies”
ERWIN — Esther Irene Willis Duncan, 101, Erwin, TN, went to be with our Lord on October 19th, 2011. She had resided at Appalachian Christian Village in Johnson City for the past four years.
She was a loving wife, cherished mother and grandmother, and Christian friend to all that met her. She was fondly called “Sunshine” by one of the CNA at the Village and she in turn gave the young woman the nickname of “Moonbeam.” Today both, Sunshine and Moonbeam are in Heaven singing “You are my Sunshine.”
Mrs. Duncan was a native of Erwin, TN, and grew up in the Clear Branch area of Unicoi County. Esther and her husband, Hubert, founded Unaka Range Farm on Chestoa Pike and delivered fresh milk, butter and eggs locally to homes and businesses for many years. All the while, Esther took care of her elderly parents until their deaths.
In addition to sharing a hard work ethic, they shared a love for travel and camping, making a complete loop of the United States in a pickup camper. When Hubert became terminally ill with cancer, Esther sold off the farm stock to spend her days caring for him.
After her husband passed away, Mrs. Duncan worked for several years at A.R. Browns and later Draper and Darwin dry goods in Erwin, TN, until the stores closed for business. Esther then took up international travel, making trips with members of her family to Spain, Portugal, Panama and South America.
In her school days, Esther played on the girls basketball team for Erwin. She maintained her competitive spirit later in life by besting everyone at a fast paced game of cards called Skipbo. Other hobbies included sewing, crocheting, quilting, growing roses and baking. She was a fine Southern cook.
Esther and her husband were active members of Calvary Baptist Church since joining in 1928. She moved her church membership to Central Baptist Church in Johnson City after relocating to Pine Oaks Assisted Living in 2004. Esther faithfully served the Lord for 83 years, often as a Sunday School teacher, a lay visitor, singing soprano in the choir or in most any capacity that she felt the Lord was calling her to do. When her beloved husband, Hubert passed away, she donated a set of handbells to Calvary Baptist Church in his memory.
She is preceded in death by her husband, Hubert E. Duncan; her parents, Frank and Loretta Clouse Willis; a sister, Blanche Miller; a brother, Frank Willis Jr.; and sister, Myrtle Willis Sears.
Surviving family members include her daughters, Mrs. Frank (Elizabeth Duncan) Murphy, of Gray, TN, and Mrs. Al (Louise Duncan) Gates, of Gatlinburg, Tn.; Four grandchildren — Frank D Murphy lives with his wife, Ana Esther, and extended family near San Antonio, Texas, two granddaughters, Mrs. Fred (Diane) Knipp, Mrs. Michael (Colleen) Wynn, reside in Gatlinburg, TN., a granddaughter, Donna Murphy and her husband, Richard, reside in West Chester, PA; one great-grandson, David Knipp, and two great-great grandchildren, Sierra and Rain Knipp, reside in Gatlinburg, Tn.; A great-granddaughter, Diane, and husband, Allen, in San Antonio, a great-grandson, Glenn Smith and his wife, Kathy, also from the San Antonio area; Great-great-grandsons, Cody and Chance Smith, of Texas; great-great-granddaughter, Delana Rose Smith, of Texas.
Extended surviving family includes numerous cousins, nieces and nephews who live in and around Erwin, Tn., as well as other areas of the South.
The family will receive friends on Saturday, October 22, 2011, at Valley Funeral Home in Erwin, TN, from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm and the funeral service will follow at 1:00 p.m. The service will be conducted by Dr. Ron Murray of Central Baptist Church. Also officiating, Janice Shelton, Senior Pastor of Central Baptist Church. Music provided by Gary Amos of Calvary Baptist Church.
Pall Bearers are Lester Bailey, Jr., Leonard Bowman, Dick Bradford, Sammy Sproules, Danny Miller and Buck Foster. Honorary Pall Bearers — Henry Clouse and Ellis Murphy.
Esther will be laid to rest next to her husband of 85 years at Roselawn Cemetery in Johnson City, TN.
Memorials made be made in Esther’s name to: Central Baptist Church, 300 N. Roan Street, Johnson City, TN 37601; or to Calvary Baptist Church. 540 Adams Street. Erwin, TN 37650.