Esther D. Nava

NORWAY – Esther D. Nava of Norway passed away with her family by her side at Stephens Memorial Hospital on August 24, 2020. She was 99 years old. Esther was born on February 1, 1921, to Grace Gertrude Flood and Clarence Sullivan Dunham. She was born in the house she was living in. Esther performed as a “Jazz” singer in night clubs since her childhood, traveling from town to town, in a ‘bus’ with different bands in the 1930s and 1940s. She played with the “Bobby Hackett” band (who eventually went on to play for “Jackie Gleason)”, and the “Doug Harmon Band” in Portland, Maine. They would play dates around the country. Illinois, Virginia and New England. “The Commodore Ball Room” and the “Kimball Starlight Room” in Boston, Ivey week performances at college’s and play for fraternities.On nights off in Boston, Esther would attend Jazz workshops, if Ella Fitzgerald was singing at the “Savoy”, the whole band would go!Then in “1941” many of the bands broke up, as the war broke out and many of the “musicians” were drafted. Esther came back to Portland and they had USO stateside, a combo in Portland and a broadcast two nights a week from the “Columbia Hotel”. This was one of the saddest times for Esther, all the Navy ships came in to Portland, and the “Sailors” had to leave their wives and families. Esther met “Cleveland Indians Pitcher, Bob Feller”, his career was cut short due to the war.But it wasn’t “singing” that was Esther’s passion, it was “swimming”! She was part of the “Norway Lake” swim club, and after her junior year she moved to Brockton, Mass., where she lived with a family and joined the “Boston Swimming Association”. She did many races and a lot of training. “Then one night a few of us sneaked out and got into a night club” and the girls urged Esther to sing with the “orchestra”. Eventually she did, and was offered a job, but refused it, and that was a “turning point” for her. Esther returned to Norway and began singing with a band from “Yarmouth, Maine”. She began singing in the area with local musicians, performing at “Minstrel shows” in town, which is where she began at the age of 15. Esther worked for B. E. Cole shoe shops and drove “bus” for SAD #17 for 19 years. She did a lot of time volunteering for the “coffee shop” at Stephens Memorial Hospital and worked at a few Mom and Pop stores in the area. Esther always enjoyed helping others, and loved her family dearly.She loved sitting on her porch at “Norway Lake” and reminisce about old times and what a beautiful era she lived and grew up in.Esther is survived by her daughter Geraldine Lauzon and husband Gil of Camp Ellis: her daughter Marion Denbow and husband Wayne of Norway; her son Louis Nava, III and wife Gwen of Niceville, Florida; granddaughter Norma Nadeau and husband Jeff; granddaughter Robin Morey and husband Les; granddaughters Kathy and Jenny; grandson Louis; several great grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.She was predeceased by her parents; her sister Winifred Brown; her brother Ralph Dunham; and her beloved grand pets and special cat. Graveside services will be held on Monday, August 31 at 2 p.m. at Pikes Hill Cemetery in Norway. Masks will be required and social distancing guidelines will be followed. Arrangements are under the care of Chandler Funeral Homes & Cremation Service, 45 Main St., South Paris. Online condolences may be shared with her family at http://www.chandlerfunerals.comIn lieu of flowers Esther’s wish would be for you to donate to a charity of your choice.

Esther D. Nava

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