(1895 – 1975)
She was born in Russellville, the next to the oldest child of Mr. and Mrs. Amos Benton Hester. As the oldest daughter, Essie always was helping the other six children. If someone needed buttons, thread, lace, or ribbon, he or she would “look upstairs in Essie’s trunk — she has everything needed to repair clothes.” This loving sister not only had the necessary materials, but she also knew how to mend any piece of clothing in the house.
The younger siblings looked up to Essie and loved her because she was a caring and loving person. Her thoughtfulness was evident when she came up with the solution to a problem that seemed awfully big for her younger brother Walston. The little boy could not understand why he couldn’t wear red shirts like his sisters wore red dresses. At that time, boys did not traditionally wear red. While Essie was in New York going to Columbia University, she bought him a little red silk crepe de chine shirt. When she gave it to him he was so thrilled that he wanted to wear it all the time with his little red wool hat.
Essie graduated from Franklin County High School, now Russellville High School. She attended Florence Normal for two years studying home economics. For a short time, she studied at Peabody College and earned her B.S. degree from Auburn University. Never satisfied with her level of knowledge, Essie Hester went to Teachers College at Columbia University, where she earned the M.A. degree.
During her years of service to Alabama, Essie Hester was co-principal at a small rural school in Franklin County and taught school in Sheffield and several other small schools. In order to make use of all her talents, Essie decided to join Extension and was named Home Demonstration Agent in Ozark and Bay Minette. She was very dedicated to her club women and girls. Teaching them to cook, can sew, and upholster furniture gave Essie a great sense of accomplishment. Another area of concern for Essie was helping families learn how to care for their children. Even though she did not have any of her own, she had plenty of practice with her many nieces and nephews.
Married later in life to Dr. Jacob Kuhn, Essie continued her Extension service as seriously as she had before her marriage. Through the years she worked in Dale, Baldwin, Autauga, Lamar, and Escambia Counties. Everywhere she went people grew to love and admire her for the thoughtfulness and care she showed everyone.
In recognition of her years of devoted service, the name Essie Hester Kuhn is inscribed on the dedicatory plaque of the Extension Memorial Chapel.
Chapel Plaque Inscription Number: 73