9 December 1933 – 19 June 2022
It was a full house on Sunday the 3rd of July as family and friends gathered at the church in Somerton Park to pay their respects and give tribute to the life of Maria Esman. The service started and finished with some of her favourite hymns, and stories and memories were shared to honour her life. The following is some of what was shared on the day.
Maria was born on the 9th of December, 1933, in Utrecht, Holland. She was second born in a family of seven children. Her father was a bricklayer and her mother a homemaker.
Maria was only six years old when in 1939 the Nazi forces occupied Holland. Her childhood from that time on changed dramatically. It was a period of great trauma and anxiety—first the occupation, then the death of her baby brother Harry in 1942 when he was only one year old. Then in 1946, Maria’s mother died at the age of 36, when Maria was only 12 years old.
Maria and her five siblings were put in the care of an auntie, under the supervision of the children’s welfare service. This system did little to protect these children from the hardships that lay ahead of them.
In 1956, Maria married Theodoros Esman. Later that year their firstborn son Rudy was born. In 1958 Maria and her family sailed to Australia and landed in Port Adelaide. They took up residence in Glenelg, and Miranda was born. In 1972 the family moved to Christies Beach, and the next year welcomed a third child, Clair.
Theo was a manufacturing jeweller by trade. He worked long hours providing for his family. Maria was a homemaker caring for her children. Sadly, in 1978 Maria and Theo separated.
It was around this time that Maria was introduced to the Seventh Day Adventist faith. She became an ardent believer in the Advent message.
When she met the Southwell family, she agreed for Merv to visit her on the condition that he would bring his wife Esther along. Merv and Esther developed a good relationship with Maria and she was invited to have Bible studies, and became a member of the Somerton Park church.
Around the same time she shared the Reformation message with William (Bill) Pannell, who served as an ordained deacon in the Somerton Park church for a number of years, and passed away in 2005.
Maria was known by all at the church as “Sister Esman.” She served as a Sabbath school teacher for the children for many years, and also assisted with cleaning and organising, bringing the same touch that was manifested in her housekeeping through the years. At combined lunches her soups were always a highlight.
Sister Esman enjoyed participating in nursing home singing on Sabbath afternoons. This was an effort of the Somerton Park church and was conducted in various facilities around Adelaide. She would make friends with the residents and form many bonds with them over the years, visiting them through the week.
Maria loved to share her health tips with all who would listen. It was her wish for health reasons to shift to the country. After Clair left home she lived in Callington and then Clayton Bay. After a few years she felt it better to be closer to church and family, and she moved to Woodcroft Park, where she made her home in one of the cottages. Then just a couple of years ago, she decided to offer her services as a live-in caretaker at the little Somerton Park church. Her generosity made possible the construction of a little unit at the church, where she lived until her passing.
In the early hours of Sunday morning the 19th of June, after some time spent in hospital, Maria passed away. She was 88 years old. She did not suffer from pain and she kept her memory and mind sharp, right to the end.
Maria is survived by her children, Rudi, Miranda and Clair, her children-in-law Jane and Lindsay, and her grand and great-grandchildren Daniel, Jade, Kristopher, Jessica, Shenae, Bradley and Dylan.
Our beloved Sister Esman will be missed, but she is at rest and awaiting the resurrection.