Esther L. Hutcherson

Published 11:55 am Thursday, December 3, 2015

Nov. 27, 1927 – Dec. 1, 2015

Born prematurely on Thanksgiving Day, 24 November 1927, Esther Frances Lovelace lived a gratitude-filled life. Her inherent joie de vivre profoundly touched the lives of her family and friends and has paved the way for all of them to be grateful as well, now in particular for her very special life.

Esther L. Hutcherson

Esther L. Hutcherson

Esther passed away on 1 December in Columbia, South Carolina, after several years of dealing with the effects of dementia. Even in the last years of her life, she maintained a cheerful disposition and was able to offer her characteristic warm smile and hug to everyone whose path crossed hers, even when she no longer recognized faces or remembered names.

A native of Halifax County, Virginia, she was a graduate of Halifax County High School and attended Averett College in Danville, Virginia, where she was a lyric soprano in the a capella choir. Before her marriage in 1948 to James Wilson Hutcherson, she was a matron at the orphanage in Danville.

Esther led a colorful life, one filled with varied experiences. When her children were small, she offered them trips around the world through books, photographs and culinary delicacies of foreign lands. Later in her life she was able to enjoy actual travel experiences herself throughout the United States and Europe with late husband Hutch; one of her most memorable trips was to Estonia.

She was a life-long arts enthusiast, participating in numerous theatrical productions, both as actor and costume mistress, in South Boston, Virginia; Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Ahoskie, North Carolina, where she was a founding member of the Gallery Theatre and the Sidewalk Art Show.

In Greensboro, North Carolina, she was active in the Greensboro Symphony Guild, serving on the Board and Executive Committee as VP for Fund Raising. She was one of the moving forces behind the Guild’s successful Super Sale; and she also enjoyed singing with the Guild Chorus. She and Hutch enjoyed symphonic music and attended every masterworks concert. She instilled her love for the arts in both her children, taking them to symphony, theatrical and ballet performances throughout their childhood and offering them opportunities to invest themselves in the arts in a variety of ways.

She was a member of the Euterpe Society and the Rachel Caldwell Chapter of the DAR in Greensboro and served as President and Board member of The Greensboro Artists League, now The Center for Visual Arts.

An accomplished artist, Esther taught art in both Ahoskie and Greensboro. She nurtured and encouraged her students, and was particularly proud when one of them embraced art in some form as their chosen life’s work. Her studios were safe havens—places where students were free to explore and learn in their own unique ways. She participated with her mother, also an artist, in the Virginia Beach Art Show; two of her works were selected for the James River Juried Art Show.

In addition to teaching art, Esther also served as a teacher’s aide in the Hertford County School System for a number of years, enjoying this time as yet another opportunity to inspire and encourage young people entrusted to her care.

A voracious reader and lifetime student, Esther’s curiosity was boundless. She was engaged in many areas of inquiry and was a fascinating conversationalist. A faith-filled soul, she was an astute student of the Bible. A professed and practicing Christian, she also had an insatiable desire to understand all the religions of the world in addition to her own. At the same time, she was fascinated by astrology and palm reading and such topics as genealogy, art theory and political discourse. She assured everyone that these “studies” kept her out of trouble, as they kept her forever active mind occupied!

Always one to extend a helping hand to those in need, Esther was a volunteer for the American Red Cross, Service to the Military, for many years in Ahoskie. In addition, she was the consummate hostess, always ready to set an extra plate at the table; her door—the one to her home and the one to her soul– was always wide open.

She was as bold and daring as her paintings. She was often outrageous and outspoken. She was always interesting and sometimes unpredictable. She was imaginative, wonder-filled and wise. But most of all she was kind and generous.

At the time of her death, she was a member of First Baptist Church Greensboro.

The daughter of Louis Bernard Lovelace and Rae Boblett Lovelace Dowdy, she was preceded in death by her parents; her sister, Jackie Lovelace Gordon; her brother, Louis Bernard Lovelace, Jr.; a step grandson, Steven Douglas Sutton; and the love of her life, husband James Wilson Hutcherson.

She is survived by her two children, Valerie Hutcherson Sutton (Ben) of Holly Springs, North Carolina and James Lucien Hutcherson of Columbia, South Carolina. In addition she is survived by her grandchildren, Lindsay Sutton Beavers (Derek), Chelsea Elizabeth Reid Hutcherson, and James Hunter Thornton Hutcherson; as well as two great-grandchildren, Madeline McNeel Beavers and Benjamin Mills Beavers. She is survived also by her four step grandchildren and five step great-grandchildren.

There will be a celebration of her life at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 8 at First Baptist Church Greensboro. A visitation in the Atrium will follow.

Memorial donations may be made either to Dan River Baptist Church, Esther’s home church, where she was baptized, married and her ashes will be interred in the family plot, or to a charity of one’s choice. The church’s address follows: 1228 Dan River Church Road, South Boston, VA 24592.