Grace Kester

Grace Lavonne (Schmalzried) Kester, of North Manchester, died at 7:10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, at Peabody Retirement Community.

Grace was born on a farm north of Urbana, on Sept. 11, 1924, to Aaron and Ethel (Brunton) Schmalzried. 

A child of the depression, she graduated from Urbana High School in 1942, attended Manchester College during World War II, receiving a bachelor’s degree in home economics and art, and a teaching license in 1945. Grace received her master’s degree from Ball State University in 1967. She married Max E. Kester in North Manchester on June 5, 1945; he died on July 31, 2000.

Grace taught at Manchester Community Schools for 30 years, retiring in 1986, where she founded the Grace Kester Outstanding Female Athletic Award in 1977. She was an active member of the Manchester Historical Society, a 50 plus year member of the Manchester Fine Arts Club; Wabash County Art Guild, serving as Treasurer for 21 years; the North Manchester Shephard’s Center, serving on the board for two terms; the Wabash County, Indiana and National Retired Teachers Association; and a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church.

Grace was a world traveler, attended many plays, musical events, and movies, was a seamstress, and painted many paintings. She loved her children and all of those she taught. Grace loved life, loved to learn and enjoyed everything she did. She had a good life with her wonderful husband of 55 years.

She is survived by her children, the Rev. Edward E. (the Rev. Susan Keirn) Kester, of Fort Wayne, Kathy (Harold) Kretzer, of Richmond, Va., Cynthia (Robert) Maylone, of Muncie, and Annette (Dennis) Ayres, of North Manchester; her grandchildren, Caroline (Ian) Kester-Haney of Fort Wayne, Sara (Joshua) MacDermod, of Chesapeake, Va., Joanna (Peter) Chun, of Washington, D.C., Chris (Sunshine) Simcoe and Aaron Simcoe, both of Muncie, and Lisa Rioux of Toledo, Ohio, Abbie (Jason) Richards of Huntington, Indiana, Andy (Ruth) Ayres of North Manchester, and Ryan Ayres of Idaho; her great-grandchildren, Honor Kester-Haney, Luke, Ethan, Matthew, Jacob, and Hannah MacDermod, Aidan and Jada Simcoe, Wade, Gracie, and Noah Beck, Madison, Cole and Carter Isbell, Hannah, Stephanie, Jordan, and Sam Ayres, Tyler Ayres, Cameron Smith, and Zachary, Gabriel, and Maxim Rioux.

She was also preceded in death by her parents, grandson, Andrew Beck, great-grandson, Chance Beck, and two sisters, Dorothy Dye and Jeanette Schnepp.

Funeral services were Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, at Manchester United Methodist Church, 306 E. 2nd Street, North Manchester, with the Rev. Larry Ray officiating.  Burial was in Oaklawn Cemetery, North Manchester.  Visitation was Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, at Grandstaff-Hentgen Bender Chapel, 207 W. Main St., North Manchester, and one hour prior to the service Tuesday, at the church.

Preferred memorial is to the Community Foundation of Wabash County, for the Max E. and Grace L. Kester Endowment Fund.

The memorial guest book for Grace may be signed at


Posted on 2017 Nov 07