Esther Kastanos

May 26, 1919 - February 6, 2014
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A humble woman, she walked among giants in terms of her generosity, selflessness and devotion to the nurturing and caring of her family. Family was paramount and no sacrifice too high to alleviate pain and suffering and create happiness. She loved being surrounded by her family and together with her sisters Christine and Helen, gave lavish gourmet dinner parties. Thanksgiving was truly a great feast. Sweet is who she was.

A modest woman who through her Depression Era values toward money and wise financial decisions became a woman of considerable means. Not that you would know it by looking at her. She walked around in her old white sneakers and wore a sweater with a safety pin substituting for buttons. She could have cared less about clothes and jewelry and was not materialistic in any way.

In her later years, it gave her enormous pleasure to lavish her generosity on her two nieces, who were like her daughters, Marlene George and Marilyn Sardonis. She never missed an important event in their lives. She had such a strong sense of family, she helped pay for the funeral of her institutionalized cousin she hadn’t seen in over sixty years.

She was a woman before her time. In the 1950’s and 1960’s she woke up before dawn each morning, put on a business suit and headed to San Francisco to work. She competed and succeeded in a man’s world. She worked for Electronics Data Systems in the field of computers, when computers were the size of refrigerators. Marilyn remembers going to visit Esther at work in the large freezing computer room. Marlene remembers Esther studying her computer books at the kitchen table when she was a little girl. Looking at the books it looked like a foreign language. We could say “It’s Greek to us”, but we are Greek! Esther was a lifelong member of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Ascension in Oakland. She was very proud of her Greek heritage and all things Greek.

Esther travelled extensively throughout Europe, across our country, the U.S. Eastern Sea Board, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and other places. She travelled to Greece five times and along with her sisters and nieces made a Mecca to her parent’s birth places. She and Marlene travelled by donkey from the shore of the Aegean Sea to the hilltop of her father’s village in Tyros, Greece, and Marilyn remembers the long curvy donkey trail on the tiny trail to the beautiful ancient city of Rhodes.

She loved politics and never missed voting. She loved CAL Berkeley and anything CAL. Esther was an avid football fan with 50 yard line season tickets in the late 1940’s,50’s and60’s. She travelled by train to Pasadena to watch Cal’s last Rose Bowl appearance. In the hospital a doctor asked her who she wanted to win the Super Bowl and she said CAL! She was very proud her two nieces graduated from UC Berkeley.

She owns a home on the West shore of Lake Tahoe and she loved to vacation there. In her later years, Esther loved staying at her home in the Berkeley Hills with a 180 degree view of the Bay. Her favorite sayings were, “You got to be kidding” and “You’re telling me.” Nothing made her happier than being with her family, her sister, Helen George, nieces Marilyn Sardonis and Marlene George and Marlene’s husband, Nick Zamorano, who she loved as a nephew.

During the early morning hours of February 6th Esther went to the light and was welcomed into the embraces of her family who preceded her in death, parents Mary and William, sisters Christine, Dora, Irene and Stella, and brothers James and Steve. May God rest her soul and she find everlasting peace. Those you leave behind will always love and remember you.

Friends and acquaintances are cordially invited to attend funeral services Wednesday, February 12 at 11:00 a.m. at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension, 4700 Lincoln Avenue, Oakland, with Fr. Tom Zaferes officiating; interment, Sunset View Cemetery, El Cerrito. Visitation Tuesday, February 11 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m with a trisagion at 7:00 p.m. at the Cathedral.

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Born: May 26, 1919
Died: February 6, 2014

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