Esther Larson Birk, 96, bedrock of the Birk Family, passed away Oct. 16, 2011, in Pine River, Minn. Born in Maddock, N.D., in 1915, Esther spent her childhood in St. Paul, Madison Wis., and Evanston, Ill. After high school she managed a Neumode Hosiery store in downtown Chicago. She married Delbert E. Birk Sr. of Wamego, Kan., in 1937. They vacationed in the Brainerd lakes area, liked it, and in the spring of 1950, with their two young sons, Del and Esther moved to Pine River where they bought Camp Show Me, a family resort on Norway Lake. Esther managed the resort, maintained the cabins, and cooked and entertained at The Lodge, the resort gathering place. Her specialty was family-style chicken dinners and weekly potlucks featuring wild game. After closing the resort in the late 1960s, she and Del opened an antique shop.
Esther was strong, clever, industrious, loving, caring, inspiring, joyful, and down-to-earth. She had an easy, contagious laugh. She enjoyed reading, hunting, fishing, traveling and socializing. Her goal was to die young, as late in life as possible. She did it and with incredible grace. Words alone cannot express or detail the many gentle and positive impressions she had on family, friends and community. Esther quietly supported many causes. In her time, she was a member of the Eradelphian Club, the American Legion Auxiliary, and the First Lutheran Church of Pine River, and the Mayor of Chickamaw Beach.
Preceded in death by Del, Sr., her husband of 57 years; sister, Alice; and parents, Gunda Landvik Anderson and Emil Larson. Survived by sons, Delbert Birk Jr. (Linda), of Colorado, Douglas A. Birk (Lynda Weiss), of Minneapolis; three grandchildren, Carrie Pelletier (Glen), Del “Tug” Birk III and Cody; and one great-grandson, Hobie Witt, all of Colorado.
Memorials to Heritage Group North, P.O. Box 266, Pine River, MN 56474 in support of the Historic Pine River Depot, one of her favorite projects.
Services will be 11 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20, at First Lutheran Church, Pine River, with Pastor Bonnie Lomen officiating. Burial will follow at Pine Ridge Cemetery, Pine River. Visitation will be 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Kline Funeral Home, Pine River, and one hour prior to the service at the church. Arrangements are with Kline Funeral Home, Pine River.