In memory of

Esther T. Norton

August 3, 1913 – December 7, 2010

Esther Tessman Pertrini Norton died on December 7, 2010 at SonHeaven I in Helena. She was born at Simms, Montana on August 3, 1913 to Emilie Pohl Tessman and Frederick Tessman, who were early day homesteaders in the Sun River Valley. She attended schools in Simms, Riebeling, Cut Bank, and graduated from Great Falls High School in 1930, and worked thereafter as a Secretary and Bookkeeper in Great Falls, Hamilton and in Helena.

She married N. Jack Petrini and they lived in Black Eagle. They had three children. Following World War II they moved to Hamilton, MT where they owned and operated an apple and cherry orchard and later a meat and wild game processing plant. Her husband died in 1956 and in 1958 the family moved to Helena, where she worked in the Loan Guaranty Division of the Veterans Administration at Fort Harrison.

In 1967 she married Earl W. Norton. After his retirement in 1973 from the Montana Power Company, they traveled throughout the United States, Mexico, the Yucatan, Canada, Hawaii, Alaska and China. She loved traveling and studying the history of the localities and the geographical and geological aspects of the areas. She still had a garden and flowers at the age of 91. She was very interested in the genealogy of the Tessman, Petrini, and Norton families, besides the Korizek family.

Esther was preceded in death by her husband, Earl W. Norton, who died May 14, 2004; four brothers and eight sisters. Survivors are one son, Joe T. Petrini, Helena; one daughter, Rose (James) Ballard, Great Falls; one brother, Leo L. Tessman, Great Falls; a sister-in-law, Eileen N. Blackmore. A daughter Evelyn (Frank) Braun, died April 24, 1999. Also surviving are six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren: Janet Braun, Encinitas, CA; Jacque (Michael) Ayers, Billings; Julie (Bill) Tupper, Minneapolis, MN; Christi (Trevor) Scott, Washington, D.C.; Brenda Ballard and Jim Nelson; Jennifer Pospisil, Great Falls; Great-Grandchildren: Chantelle and Josh Nelson, Emily and Reno Pospisil, Benjamin Hickman, Guinevere and Genevieve Ayers, and Alexander and Christopher Tupper. She is also survived by many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Words cannot express enough gratitude for the kind and compassionate care Esther received at SonHeaven Assisted Living, where she spent her last years and made many new friendships.

Viewing is set from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Friday, December 10, 2010 at Retz Funeral Home. A Funeral Liturgy is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. Saturday, December 11, 2010 at Retz Funeral Home Chapel with burial to follow at Sunset Memorial Gardens Cemetery. A reception at Jorgenson’s restaurant will be held immediately following the burial. Memorials in Esther’s name may be sent to the Lewis and Clark Library Book Fund, 120 S Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601; Montana Historical Society, 225 N. Roberts, Helena, MT 59601 or a charity of donor’s choice. To offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Esther, please visit


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  1. Barbara Petrini Luoma says

    Dear Joe, Rose & all the family,
    It is with a sad heart I learn today (Dec. 11) that Aunt Esther has passed away. What a special lady she was and I will so miss her wonderful letters. She maintained such beautiful handwriting all her years. She was so proud of all her family. God Bless each of you & may you find Peace & Comfort in your memories of this wonderful lady. Barbara (Petrini) Luoma

  2. My thoughts and prayers are with all of your. Esther was a soft-hearted and wonderful woman. she always had a smile on her face and the lord in her heart. She will be greatly missed by all those whose lives she touched. Thank you for allowing us to know such a wonderful woman

  3. Christine Christiansen says

    I knew Ms Esther for 2 years. She was an amazing Women. She continually thank me for cleaning her room so good and watched when i made her bed always on Monday mornings. She said i made her bed the best it could be made. I thank her for it. She was trully and inspiration to me in so many ways and to watch her “Gracefully” go was just one of those “Special” moments i believe i shared with Ms. Ester. I thank the whole family for trusting her care to the many who loved her at Son Heaven. But, now Ms. Esther is with the Lord our GOD and no more pain.

  4. I am sorry to learn about the death of Esther T. Norton. This must have been a difficult time for all. Therefore, I am forwarding scripture to bring solace. Please, read the following scriptures: James 4:14, John 6:35-40, 44 and John 11:25, 26.

  5. Carolyn Locy says

    We will miss Aunt Esther. She wrote such wonderful letters to us at birthdays and other times. She was interested in many things and wrote of them throughout her years. She was very proud of her family and often wrote of their milestones. She remained a connection for us to my husband’s grandmother, her sister Alvina.
    Our sympathy to all of her family.

  6. Suzanne LaSalle Jespersen says

    My sympathy goes out to you and your family. Esther was always a special friend to mom for so many years. I always remember fondly of Esther and Earl. I wish you solace in the memories that you shared with her.

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