September 10, 2013 5:46 AM
A 63 year resident of Santa Barbara and Goleta, died from a stroke on September 6, 2013. Esther was 95 and reasonably active to the end. She was the only child of Lewis and Esther Sarah Santee from Danbury, Iowa.
Esther Mary Santee lived on a farm atop the rolling hills of Northwest Iowa until she moved to Sioux City at the age of 10. Joining a beginning violin class in the 4th grade set the tone for her future career as an instrumental music teacher.
At Central High School, she played in the violin section of the school orchestra with the Friedman twins better known as Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren. A member of the National Honor Society, she was granted a music scholarship to Morningside College.
During her college years, she played violin in the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra, was a soloist with the orchestra in annual concerto recitals, and served as president of the Zeta Chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon, National Music Sorority.
With a Bachelor of School Music Degree, she taught 2 years in high schools in the Midwest and enjoyed summers at Lake Okoboji Music Camp and Northwestern University.
Esther came to CA in 1945 to attend USC. She wrote her thesis on "The Use of Television in Music Education," obtained a Master of Music Degree, and was initiated into Pi Kappa Lambda, National Honorary Music Society.
She taught vocal and instrumental music in grades 4 through 8 in Sierra Madre and Alhambra from 1946 - 1950, producing operettas (HMS Pinafore), taking orchestras to music festivals, and playing violin in the Pasadena Civic Symphony Orchestra.
Esther came to S.B. in 1950 and taught instrumental music in the elementary schools for 26 years. Her school orchestra played for PTA programs and her students participated in All City Orchestras. She also played violin in the S.B. Symphony for several years.
In 1964, Esther married Frank F. Fritsch. They moved to New Horizons in Goleta in 1966 and both retired from the S.B. School District in 1976. Esther had taught music a total of 32 years, 30 in CA.
Esther is a Past Matron of S.B. Marguerite Chapter Order of the Eastern Star. She is past president of Delta Chapter, Delta Kappa Gamma, and S.B. Alumnae Chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon. She has held offices in the S.B. Division of CRTA, Tent 22 Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Chapter MD, P.E.O. and Santa Barbara Women's Club. She is a member of AAVW and the First United Methodist Church.
Since the loss of her husband in 1981, Esther has traveled extensively overseas.
Esther is survived by her 7 step-children; David of Green Bay, WI, Margaret of Winter Park, FL, Elizabeth (Stoveken) of Neenah, WI, Thomas of Aransas Pass, TX, Theresa of Bellingham, WA, Patricia (Bechard) of Weyauwega, WI, and Mary from Menasha, WI.
The family would like to thank the wonderful nurses and staff at the Visiting Nurse Hospice Care Facility at the Santa Barbara Serenity House for Esther's last month, also the Assisted Living Facility of Wood Glen Hall for Esther's 2 1/2 years of loving and attentive care. We would also like to thank the clergy at the First United Methodist Church for their frequent visits to Esther at the Serenity House.
Esther will be buried on a hillside next to her husband Frank at the Santa Barbara Cemetery.
Per Esther's request, the funeral will be a graveside service conducted by the First United Methodist Church. The service will be held on Tuesday, September 10th at 10:00 AM. Friends are welcome. In lieu of donations or flowers, please give extra generously to your favorite charity or church.
Welch-Ryce-Haider is in charge of arrangements.