Esther Louise (Smith) Kauffman

Esther Louise (Smith) Kauffman

October 30, 1915 – January 29, 2019

Esther Louise Kauffman passed away on January 29 at the age of 103.  She was born in Schuyler, NE to William and Nellie Smith, the fourth of nine children.  The family later moved to Columbus, NE, where they started the Smith Dairy Farm.  Esther loved to work in the dairy with her father and brothers and delivered milk by horse and buggy.  She married Harold Kauffman on February 18, 1938.  Together they raised five children and welcomed several other young people into their home.

Esther was very active in First United Methodist Church, and later in living Faith United Methodist Church.  She served as a Sunday School teacher and started the first Vacation Bible School, cooked meals for numerous church functions, and for many years she was one of a group who baked bread for first-time visitors to the church.  She also served as president of the Women’s Society of Christian Service and Church Women United.  In 1994, she was given the National Valiant Woman Award by Church Women United for her outstanding service to church and community.

Esther was equally involved in the community, serving as president of the Rosehill PTA, a Cub Scout leader for all of her sons, and was active in PEO.  When her own children were raised, she became “mom” to several foreign students.  Not one to sit still, Esther remained active in bowling, swimming, golf, and even riding horses well into her eighties.

On Mother’s Day in 1998, Esther learned that her name would be on the building at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Esther L. Kauffman Academic Residential Center, which now houses the Raikes Honors Program.

Esther’s life was the definition of faith, hard work, generosity, family values, honesty, and integrity.  As we celebrate Esther’s life with family and friends, we remember her optimism, love for other people, and most of all, love for the Lord.

Esther was preceded in death by her husband, Harold; son, Fredric; granddaughter, Lindsey; siblings: Robert, Irene Galley, Glenn, Dorothy Staub, and Harold.  She is survived by her children: Carole McVaney (Ed), Thomas (Mary Lynne), Martin (Ann), and Gary; daughter-in-law, Ruth; fifteen grandchildren; twenty-three great-grandchildren; siblings: Bill, Don, and Barbara Alpers; many nieces and nephews.

The family would like to thank the wonderful staff of Prairie Meadows and Kindred Hospice, who showed great kindness to Esther in her final years.


A MEMORIAL SERVICE will be held on Saturday, April 20th at 11am at the West Center Chapel.



  • Larry Saxton Posted February 1, 2019 10:58 am

    I’m sorry to read of your Mom’s death. I have fond memories of hanging out at your house on 58th when we were kids. If you want to talk, I’m at 402-561-8450.

  • jennifer everhart Posted February 2, 2019 11:07 am

    It was an absolute pleasure caring for your sweet Esther. She was wonderful and will be missed at Prairie meadows.

  • John c Jacobsen Posted March 10, 2019 10:36 am

    I have many great memories of my family (Frances, Win and me…John) celebrating Thanksgiving at your home. Esther was one of a kind!!! God bless you all.
    John C. Jacobsen
    Mankato MN
    Formerly of Columbus Nebraska

  • Bernajean [Berni] Posted April 4, 2019 9:09 am

    Esther was mother to many – she sprinkled love, kindness and her faith on everyone around her. I will be forever touched, inspired and gifted to have known and been loved by this beautiful soul. I am humbled, blesssed and grateful to Esther and all the Kauffman’s for many many dear, precious memories that live forever in my heart. May your family love surround and comfort you in the coming days and beyond. Always – Berni

  • Joe and Carol GIvan Posted April 16, 2019 9:52 am

    We are glad that we can attend Esther’s memorial and look forward to seeing family and sharing stories of her amazing life.

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