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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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May 18, 2022

12/31/2021 5:26:00 AM
Esther Josephine Milender

Esther J. Milender, 86, of Rhinelander, passed away at her home on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 26, 2021 with her family at her side.

Esther was born in Britt, Minn. on the family farm on Sept. 10, 1935 to Walter W. and Lempi J. (Toivonen) Lehto. She was raised on the family farm and graduated in 1953 from Buhl High School in Buhl, Minn. While living on the farm Esther was her father's right hand helper including caring for the cows, helping to raise her younger siblings and assisting with the family's sawmill. She met Darrll Milender in Minnesota and the couple later were married at an Air Force Base in Denver, Colo. Esther, Darrll and their children were an Air Force family, moving and traveling throughout the states and Spain. When Darrll was serving in Viet Nam, Esther and her children spent time at the Lehto family farm in Britt, Minn. where some of Esther's fondest memories were made. While living in Rhinelander, she was employed as a CNA and later as an EMT for 27 years at St Mary's Hospital.

She enjoyed staying home, taking care of her flower and vegetable garden, quilting, which she learned from her mother, stamp collecting, coin collecting and reading. Esther was always there to help her children, family and friends in so many ways.

Her family feels blessed to have been there to help her on her final month-long journey to eternity.

She will be dearly missed by her children: Shirley Larson of Land O' Lakes, Jackie (Dale) Whittaker of Rhinelander, Ken (Kirsten) Milender of Harshaw, Karen Kirk of Grand Forks, N.D. and Joan (Jack) Adkins of Tomahawk, 21 grandchildren, 43 great-grandchildren; siblings Marty (Elaine) Lehto of Britt, Minn., continuing the legacy by living on the family farm, Ellie (Dan) Geierman of Hillman, Mich. and Ann Marie Everett of Virginia, Minn. Also surviving are nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents, husband Darrll Milender, one sister Helen (Walt) Carlson and a brother-in-law Jim Everett.

At Esther's request, there will be no visitation or service.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the Hildebrand Funeral Home & Cremation Specialists, 24, E. Davenport Street, Rhinelander, Wisconsin 54501, 715-365-4343. Everyone is invited to sign the guestbook or leave an online condolence at

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