Esther Earline Foiles was born Aug. 23, 1923, in Montezuma to Earl Raymond and Esther Rachel Foiles, their fourth child. She joined two older siblings, Charles and Neita. The first child, Jewel, died in infancy.
Earl was a Methodist minister and Earline spent her childhood in the parsonages of many small Kansas towns. She joined the Methodist Church in early childhood and remained an active member her entire life.
She graduated from Dunlap Rural High School in 1941, just as World War II began for the United States. She went on to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a licensed teacher with a lifetime certificate from Kansas State Teacher’s College of Emporia in 1943 with two years of what was then called normal school, or teacher preparation. She taught one year at Havana, two years at Moline, and then moved to Iola, where she taught first grade at Jefferson Elementary School for 37 years in the same classroom.
Her mother died in May 1950 and she shared a home with and cared for her father from then until his death in 1974.
She never married or had children of her own but dedicated her life to educating everyone’s children in Iola. Her greatest joy and pride was the notebook where she carefully recorded the name of every child she taught, and also the wonder of meeting former pupils in the businesses and on the streets who recognized and remembered their first-grade teacher.
Earline had a lifetime love of the Pacific Ocean, having traveled to California several times during her childhood to visit cousins and uncles on her father’s side. Her sister, Neita McGhee, moved to Oregon with her family in 1957. From then on it became a pattern in her life to travel with her father to continue visits to California and to Neita’s family in Oregon and she often teased the relatives that she really didn’t come to visit them, but to see the ocean. The frequent visits also allowed her to become a very real part of the life of Neita’s children and gave her a family she did not have of her own.
In the 1960s she returned to Kansas State Teacher’s College of Emporia and completed her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education, another accomplishment of which she was proud. The Oregon family traveled to Kansas to see her graduate in August 1967. She continued teaching until her retirement in 1983.
She was a member of Wesley United Methodist Church and the United Methodist Women in Iola. She served many different offices in the church. She was a member of the Salem Chapter Order of Eastern Star; a life member of Kansas Retired Teachers Association; a member of Allen County Retired Teachers; and a member of the Kansas Eta Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa International Honorary Organization of Women Educators.
She was preceded in death by her father, her mother, and her siblings; Jewel, Charles Foiles, and Neita McGhee. She and her sister had shared life together at a distance with many telephone conversations each day until Neita died in 2010. In 2012, it became very difficult to live on her own in Kansas. With the help of her nieces, she moved to Oregon and resided at Hermiston Terrace, Hermiston, Ore., at the time of her death. She died April 13, 2013, at the age of 89. The move, though difficult for her, allowed her to have numerous visits with family, two more trips to the beach, new friends at Hermiston Terrace, a lovely birthday party with family last August, and to be surrounded by care and love to the very last.
She is survived by four nieces and their families, Melba Hauser, Gresham, Ore., Cheryl Ayers, Lynchburg, Va., Dana Reynolds, Woodburn, Ore., and Kerry Rietmann, Ione, Ore. In addition, she is survived by a nephew and his family, Gary Foiles, Lyndon.
A memorial service in Earline’s honor will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Iola’s Wesley United Methodist Church. At her request, memorial gifts may be presented to Wesley United Methodist Church, 301 E. Madison, Iola, KS 66749.
Following a small family funeral in Oregon she was buried next to her parents in the Baldwin City Oakwood Cemetery.
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