Esther Bartos Banker,
lifelong Byram resident and librarian
Esther Bartos Banker, a third-generation Byram resident and devoted librarian, died peacefully of complications from stroke and diabetes on July 7 at Greenwich Hospital, surrounded by her family. Born March 30, 1929, Esther was the daughter of the late George Bartos and Katherine Hinlicky Bartos.
Esther enjoyed a forty-year career within the Greenwich library system, where she inspired generations of library patrons. As head librarian at the Byram Shubert Library for nearly 25 years, she instilled a love of reading in all who walked through its doors, while building a strong sense of community for Byram residents. Esther loved serving the Byram community, where she knew every patron by name and what they liked to read, often setting aside a new book she knew a patron "would just love." She broadened the knowledge and imagination of young readers through countless children's programs and activities, including weekly story hours at the library during the school year and summertime story hours at Byram Park. To further encourage reading, she brought local authors to the branch for young authors workshops and started a collection of large print adult books for elderly patrons. Esther was actively involved in the library's growth, which included building a new community room to provide a meeting area for local clubs and organizations, as well as an expanded children's section with dozens of cubicles stocked with colorful books. Additionally, Esther took the library beyond its immediate location on Mead Avenue, by bringing books and reading programs into surrounding preschools and daycare centers. These outreach programs succeeded in bringing more residents into the library.
Esther's library career began in 1945, when at the young age of 16 she started working part-time at the Byram library. From the start she had a special interest in encouraging children to read, first as librarian in charge of the Byram Branch Children's Room (1947-1950) and then as school librarian (1951-1957), where she assisted the Greenwich school system with setting up libraries in the Riverside, New Lebanon, Byram, and Glenville elementary schools. After several years off to raise her children, she returned to work in 1971 as overseer of a library addition at North Mianus School. In 1974 she was hired as Branch Manager of the Byram Shubert Library and tirelessly served the community until her retirement in 1997. Over the years, Esther loved working with her dedicated staff and cherished her many friendships throughout the library system.
In recognition of her many contributions to the Byram community, the former access road to the Byram Shubert Library was named "Esther's Way," marked by a street sign for more than a decade. As a further tribute to Esther, the sweeping pathway leading to the front entrance of the newly renovated and expanded Byram branch was also dedicated to her. "Esther's Way" is now designated by a plaque affixed to a boulder that sits alongside the path.
After her retirement, Esther continued to be active in the Byram community, serving as a trustee of the Byram Scholarship Fund and member of the Friends of the Byram Shubert Library and Byram Garden Club. Despite a debilitating stroke five years ago, she continued to keep the Byram Shubert Library in her heart, attending its reopening, "Esther's Way" dedication, and tree lighting ceremonies. Esther was an active member of the Women's Club of Greenwich and Women's Club Gardeners, and rode their newly installed wheelchair lift at its ribbon cutting ceremony last fall. She was also involved in many local organizations, including the Greenwich 350 Commission. In addition to gardening, Esther enjoyed spending time with her children, grandchildren, relatives, and friends.
Esther graduated from Greenwich High School, Class of 1947 and was a National Honor Society member. She attended New Haven State Teachers College and continued her studies at Southern Connecticut State University, Fairfield University, and the University of Connecticut. She served on the Professional Library Committee and was a member of the Association for Childhood Education and Greenwich Library book selection committee.
Esther is survived by Ernest, her devoted husband of 56 years, and their three children: Kathryn Banker Wentworth and her husband Bruce of Allentown, PA; Kimberly Banker Sitarz and her husband Paul of Greenwich; Ernest Alfred Banker Jr. and his wife Janet of Greenwich; and eight grandchildren: Bruce and Colin Wentworth; John, Katie, and Kristin Sitarz; Sarah, Brittany, and Emma Banker. Esther's sister, Georgeanne Katherine Bartos Semsel of Byram, pre-deceased her. She is survived by her brother-in-law John Semsel of Greenwich; niece Rebecca Semsel of Stamford; and nephew Jay Semsel and his wife Lisa of Summit, NJ and their children Drew and Amanda.
The family would like to thank Dr. Francis Walsh and Dr. James Brunetti for their excellent care provided to Esther during her prolonged illness.
The family will receive relatives and friends on Friday, July 9 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Leo P. Gallagher & Son Funeral Home, located at 31 Arch Street in Greenwich. The funeral service will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 10 at Christ Church, 254 East Putnam Avenue. The interment will follow at Putnam Cemetery, 35 Parsonage Road. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Esther Banker Memorial Children's Fund, c/o The Friends of the Byram Shubert Library, 29 Mead Avenue, Greenwich, CT 06830. To send the family an online condolence, please visit www.leopgallaghergreenwich.com.