Esther Kanipe

Obituary of Esther Sue Kanipe

Esther Sue Kanipe, 74, passed away March 19, 2020, with her daughters by her side at Hospice’s Siegenthaler Center after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer. She was born March 22, 1945, in Rockingham, NC, a daughter of the late John W. and Mamie (Nelson) Kanipe. Esther earned her PhD in History from the University of Wisconsin. In 1976, she became the first woman granted tenure at Hamilton College. She was a professor of Modern French History, a dedicated tutor, as well as a posse mentor with the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and created the Disability Studies program. In addition, Esther created the History Department as it exists today, hiring and mentoring all but the most recent members. Esther was named Mohawk Valley Outstanding Woman in Education, appointed to the Women’s History Commission in 1986, and as a Volunteer Court Special Advisor in Utica since 1990. She was a member of the American History Association. Esther retired from Hamilton College as Professor of French History Emerita. She was passionate about preserving nature, women’s studies and women’s activist rights. Esther was a devoted member of the Unitarian Universalist Church where she served on the church committee. She treated everyone with respect, was open-minded and very compassionate. Inspiring others, she worked tirelessly to support first generation students and students of color. She had a warm heart and great capacity for love. Her Southern charm and “tell it like it is” approach to life served all who knew her. She was a fighter and will continue to be a positive presence in our lives and many others. She will be missed by all who knew her. She is survived by her daughters, Sonia Maritza Kanipe of Westmoreland and Sandra J. Kanipe of Sauquoit; three grandsons, Diego Kanipe, Damian Simmonds and Miguel Simmonds; and a dear cousin, Jamie Cottingham. She was predeceased by her three brothers, J.W., Cecil and Bruce Kanipe. A memorial service will be held at a later time. Please consider donations in Esther’s memory to American Cancer Society or Hospice & Palliative Care.
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