Earl E. Esterly passed away May 24th, 2018 at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin after a brave fight. He was born in Chicago on January 27th, 1938, to Ernest and Loretta Esterly (nee MacDonald).

Earl started from humble beginnings. The oldest of several brothers, he worked in the family auto parts shop in Chicago. But he was determined to carve out a different path for himself, and be the first of the family to attend college.

Through great effort, Earl attended Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota, where he studied to be a minister during the day, while working in a pizza shop making dough in the evening.

Yet as would come to be characteristic of Earl, he decided to change paths at this point and pursue a different direction. In the intervening years, he held an extraordinarily wide variety of jobs all over the country, ranging from being a repo man to rising to Vice President of Van Ru Credit Corporation. Eventually, he found his niche in the field of education, where he would continue to work until his semi-retirement in 2009.

Earl’s friends and business associates were always very important to him, and he delighted in mentoring rising stars in whatever field he was working in at the time. The work he was most proud of was advancing the cause of education. Earl co-founded the Illinois Community College Association, the Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations (COHEAO), Illinois Student Loan Administrators (ISLA) and Illinois Bursar Organization (IBO). A highlight was a banquet given in his honor when he retired from some of his organizational duties. Surrounded by colleagues and friends from throughout his career, he was presented with a book of letters written by each one.

Fishing was another one of Earl’s passions. For over thirty years, he visited Crowduck Lake in Manitoba, Canada, every year with friends or work colleagues. The Fish Finder he received for Christmas one year from his family became one of his staple tools. Earl would sit for hours in a boat, admiring the serenity and beauty of the scenery, patiently waiting for the fish to come.

And Earl was an incredibly skilled poker player. Having played since a young age and being talented at math, Earl had the magic touch with cards and could always turn the tables in his favor. In mid-life, Earl made multiple trips every year to Las Vegas and attained high roller status. And never one to stay still for long, Earl went on to play poker full-time after his retirement, making frequent trips to the Grand Victoria and Hollywood casino riverboats where he won several tournaments. Beyond skill in gamesmanship, Earl also had a knack for card tricks and often entertained his daughter Elizabeth with them.

Earl was also a musician. He composed his own pieces on the piano, which had a dramatic, arresting quality, much like the man himself. There is a popular saying that Mozart was God’s laughter and Beethoven was God’s fire. It follows then that Earl Ernest Esterly was God’s thunder. Let him roll and rumble on.

Earl is survived by his daughters Elizabeth Ellen Esterly and Evelyn Eden Esterly and his brother Paul Esterly.

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted Symonds-Madison Funeral Home 305 Park Street Elgin Illinois. Interment is Private. For more information please call 847-741-1128.

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