Esther F. Brancel

ENDEAVOR -- Esther F. Brancel, age 95, of Portage, passed away on May 26, 2024, at Tivoli.  Esther was born February 12, 1929, in Moundville Township, Marquette County, to Clarence and Ferne Ford.  She attended Endeavor High School, where she met Vaughn Brancel, and on April 17, 1948, they were united in marriage.

They enjoyed 58 years together and had four children: Ben (Gail) of Endeavor; Barbara Maley of Briggsville; Carol Stewart of Sheboygan; and Marjorie Brancel of Charlotte, NC.  Esther has eight grandchildren: Micheleen (Steve) Cook of Farragut, TN; Tod (Sondra) Brancel of Endeavor; Brandon Brancel of Lake Delton; Noah (Katie) Krueger of Summit, WI; Kevin (Atalia) Krueger of Eau Claire; Tia Stewart of Sheboygan; Tygh Stewart of Portage; and Natalie Pieper of Milton, TN; and 10 great grandchildren: Destiny Metzler of Wisconsin Dells; Sophia Stewart of Sheboygan; Christopher, Kyler and Ben Cook of Farragut, TN; Blake and Bryce Brancel of Endeavor; Vaughn Krueger of Summit; Evangeline and Evander Krueger of Eau Claire.  Esther is further survived by her sister, Dessa Brunner of Tucson, AZ; brother-in-law, Fred Brancel of St Paul, MN; and many nieces and nephews.  Esther valued her lifelong friendships and those she encountered during her long life. She was preceded in death by her husband, Vaughn, and son-in-law, Tim Maley.

Esther enjoyed sewing matching dresses for her young daughters, garments for herself and square dance outfits for she and Vaughn as they danced regularly with Westfield Jolly Squares.  Later Esther took up quilting and was an active member of the Calico Capers Quilt Guild.  She helped Vaughn with his flowers and made floral arrangements every week for the Briggsville United Methodist Church, which she belonged to throughout her adult life.  She was active in the United Methodist Women and the Lake Mason Rebekah Lodge.

In 1951, she and Vaughn started the Neenah Valley Saddle Club.  They helped establish the Douglas Doers 4-H Club, Esther served as senior leader in sewing, and many other projects.  She enjoyed being a part of many other groups serving as a leader in many of those including Neenah Valley Homemakers, Marquette County Historical Society, Wauona Women, AFS (student exchange).  Her family hosted a student from Finland, Risto Sydanmaa, and stayed in contact with him and his family for the rest of her life.  She was a leader in the Republican party of Marquette County and was the first female town supervisor in Wisconsin.

Esther’s dedication to community and service was apparent throughout her life.  She received the Declaration of Chivalry from the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs.  In 2011, she was awarded the “Hero of History” by the Historical Society.

After years of helping with the farm, Esther took an interior decorator’s correspondence course, and began working at Portage Lumber.  Many in the community remember her helping pick out their carpet, hanging their drapes, measuring for cabinets, helping them create special spaces. Esther and Vaughn loved to travel, seeing all 50 states, Mexico, Canada, and much of Europe. 

Memorial services will be at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday June 29, 2024, at Briggsville United Methodist Church, with the Rev. Jim Cotter officiating.  Inurnment will be at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday at Briggsville Protestant Cemetery.  Visitation will be from 9:00 a.m. until the time of the service at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday at the church.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Briggsville United Methodist Church.

The Pflanz Mendrala Funeral Home in Portage is assisting the family.