A visitor at Esther Rexer’s 100th birthday party in Lyons Jan. 27 arrived just a little too late to catch the former music teacher “tickling the ivories” at her electric piano.
“She plays by memory,” said Esther’s sister, Genevieve Smart, who helped host the celebration that brought dozens of friends and relatives to Esther’s home. “And, she plays nearly every day. Her eyesight is failing, but she memorizes the songs. She likes to play ‘Stardust.’”
Esther, besides teaching music, is also a retired choir director and church organist at North Rose United Methodist Church. She lived in Florida for several years after retirement from schools in various districts, including her native North Rose, before moving back to Wayne County to be close to her sister and her family. She had no children of her own.
Esther was born in North Rose in 1911 to Ralph and Mary Fox Closs. After graduating from high school, she studied to be a music teacher and worked over the years in the Parish (Oswego County), Marcellus and North Rose School districts.
She also directed the North Rose church’s choir, where there were several men singers, including Wolcott’s Doc Hoople.
Earl Buchanan, Lyons’ former school superintendent, was a close friend of Esther and her husband, to whom she was married for 44 years. Earl was at Esther’s home for the party on Jan. 27. He recalled visits with his late wife to the Rexers’ home on Sodus Bay, as well as occasionally being called upon to sing in the choir that Esther directed.
“We were all great friends,” he said.
Esther maintains her independence, although Genevieve and her son, Tim Smart, visit Esther on a daily basis. She also gets Meals on Wheels delivered each day.
Longevity must be a family trait. Esther’s brother Edward passed away in September 2010 at 95 and another brother, George, died just short of his 90th birthday a few years ago. Genevieve, the youngest sibling, is approaching her 90th birthday.