Obituary of Dr. John W. Esper
Dr. John William Esper, 98 ¾ years wise, passed on, just as he had wished, peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by the love and presence of his devoted family.
John was preceded in death by his wife of nearly 65 years, Joan Nicholson Esper who was the love of his life; his firstborn son David James whom he loved dearly; his parents Anthony and Katherine (Arnu) Esper; his sisters Rosemary (Jack) Hennessy and Grace Supple.
Family was everything to him; John’s spirit lives on through his 7 surviving children and 8 spouses: (Kathy) Esper of Syracuse; Anita E. Allen (John) of Caroga Lake; Dr. John A. "Chip" Esper (Kelly) of Lake Placid; Kathleen E. Jackson (Peter) of Granby, CT; Dr. Daniel W. Esper (Dr. Sarah Reed-Esper) of Slingerlands; Dr. Joan E. Kuhnly (B. Scott) of Granby, CT; James M. Esper (Sheri) of Gloversville; and Nancy E. Byrne (Joseph) of Tully, NY, 34 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and counting; his sister Carol (Jack) Flick and brother-in-law George Supple; many nieces and nephews.
John was born March 6th, 1925, in Syracuse NY, the firstborn of four to his German parents. Family and his Catholic faith were core values for the rest of his life, ending each day on his knees in prayer. His younger years were filled with school and family chores with weekends for mass on Sundays and summertime family picnics of swimming, scalloped potatoes and pork chops and wintertime Flexible Flyer sledding.
John was a dedicated and persistent student, a 1943 graduate of Valley High School starting Syracuse University during his final year of high school and in January 1944 with 1 ½ years of college credit, he entered the Army Air Corp as an 18 ½ year old during World War II. As a tail gunner on a B29 bomber named TABOOMA, he was stationed on Tinian Island in the South Pacific theater flying 31 missions before finishing his service in December 1945. On Veteran’s Days later in his life, he shared his wartime experiences at grandchildren’s schools modeling his love for this country and some of those values from the “Greatest Generation”. He was chosen to take an honor flight with his son Jim to the monuments in DC.
After the war, he returned to Syracuse University, graduated in 1946, becoming a forever Orangeman fan, and began his lifelong dream of becoming a physician. He met his love Joan at University Hospital, a student nurse during his third year. Graduating from medical school at SU in 1950, he started a two-year General Practice residency at Rhode Island Hospital. John married Joan in 1951 and then began his family medical practice in 1952 in Gloversville where he was a beloved physician known as “Doc” working for the next 40 years at his home office. He was also the Gloversville School District physician for 29 years and a physician at the NLH Extended Care Facility for 10 years.
He always said he was grateful to practice in the “golden age of medicine”. Those were the days when house and hospital calls, and evening office hours were the norm; impromptu visits in the driveway when patients would pull in and say, “Hey Doc, can you check this out for me?” were common; and there was a great deal of art to it as well as science. One colleague commended him recently saying he was “nearly the last of those physicians who, with far less scientific knowledge and nearly none of the technology we have now, were correct an unimaginable percent of the time.”
Doc was selfless, humble, kind, quietly intelligent and extremely skilled – the most incredible qualities for a family physician. And with his work, he inspired 14 other family members to serve in this field of healing and compassion.
Despite working an unbelievable amount of time, John/Dad always found time for his children and grandchildren. Memories include tobogganing down “Old Baldy” on snowy Saturdays and skating at Littauer, fishing and building little boats for floating on Caroga Lake, and happily accompanying his wife as Grandpa Elf at the annual tree lighting ceremony.
Over his lifetime, John/Doc contributed his time and expertise to many organizations. As a board-certified Family Practice physician, serving a term as chief of staff, he was a member of many local and national medical associations. He was a board member of the Gloversville Senior Center and past president of SPRING. He served as a eucharistic minister, on councils at St. Mary’s and Church of the Holy Spirit, and a member of the Knights of Columbus.
The family will greet friends and relatives from 4-7pm Thursday January 11th at Betz, Rossi, Bellinger, and Stewart Funeral Homes, 51 Fremont St. Gloversville.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Rev. Matthew Wetsel on Friday, January 12, 2024 at 10:00 am at the Church of the Holy Spirit, 153 S. Main St. Gloversville.
Memorial contributions may be made in lieu of flowers to the West Caroga Lake Association, Best Buddies, JDRF, Gloversville Public Library, or to the charity of your choice in his memory. Dad/Doc always had a bright smile and a kind word for everyone he met; he would be so pleased if you would carry on that legacy for him.
Online condolences to the family may be made at www.brbsfuneral.comTo send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Dr. John Esper, please visit Tribute Store