In Memoriam: Gertrude Esteros (B.S. HEEd ’36, M.S. HEEd ’41)

Gertrude Esteros

Gertrude Esteros (B.S. HEEd ’36, M.S. HEEd ’41), who for three decades led what is now the Department of Design, Housing, and Apparel, died on December 2nd. She was 102.

During her time at the University of Minnesota, Esteros served in a variety of positions, from instructor to professor to division chair. She headed the Department of Related Arts, as it was then called, from 1949 to 1979 and built it into a dynamic design department. Under her leadership the department developed professional degree programs and expanded its research.

Esteros retired from the University in 1980 and in 1993 she was awarded an Outstanding Achievement Award by the Regents of the University of Minnesota. Calling her a “visionary and driving force,” the award was in recognition for her work on what was then called the Goldstein Gallery and also for her work to develop the 1666 Coffman Condominiums for retired faculty and staff. It is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a graduate.

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  • Julia W Robinson

    What a marvelous teacher was Gertrude Esteros! She was really devoted to her international work, and having her share it with us as students was very inspiring!

    Will there be a memorial celebration of some kind? Please notify the design community.

    • Patricia Lalim Falcone

      Dr. Gertrude Esteros was my second Mom from ages 14 to 21. As a 14 year-old I was thrilled to be able to attend the University of Minnesota School of Agriculture where she mentored me whether in Design Class, Bible Study or on wonderful field trips. After exchanging dresser drawers I moved through the tunnel from one dormitory to another and became her student in Interior Design as the youngest University of Minnesota Student. I tried to follow in her footsteps as much as possible including a Ph.D.. Everything necessary for teaching Related Art was at our fingertips–the best designs from the finest creators of textiles including draperies, carpeting and fabulous imported Scandinavian furniture including paintings, pottery, the finest dinner services, silver and crystal. The last time I saw her was in 2009 at the Ag School Reunion. She was as kind and beautiful as ever. I should also add that my mother Eva Corneliusen Lalim was a graduate who studied under the Goldstein sisters and followed in their footsteps. I should also add that my son Christopher and I toured the lovely complex she designed and her apartment there.

    • Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories. We have received more information about the memorial celebration and have posted it below as a comment. You can also find more information here:

  • Jean Nordlund

    I admired Dr. Esteros and enjoyed her company as a graduate student in the design department in the 1970’s. She invited all of us to her home where we delighted in her textile collection, her stories, and her delicious homemade “No Rise” bread, the recipe for which she shared.

  • Virginia Hogberg Homme

    In the fall of ’51 I was so fortunate to have Gertrude Esters as my advisor. What I saw then and through the years was that she guided the application of Art In Everyday Life as taught by her predecessors, the Goldstein sisters. Taking a broad view I think she should be acclaimed for laying the groundwork that led to the outstanding College of Design that the University has today. A serious look could lead to another Outstanding Achievement Award. for her.
    At one time I’d considered dropping out of college for financial reasons. Fortunately “Miss Esteros”
    persuaded me to stay. I now contribute to scholarships at the U . Perhaps a Gertrude Esterase Scholarship Fund in the College of Design would be appropriate.

  • A celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m. on January 14, 2017, in the Coventry Chapel, 1840 University Ave., W. St. Paul, MN. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the U of M Foundation, the Goldstein Museum of Design, Altrusa International Club of St. Paul Foundation or 1666 Coffman. You can learn more at:

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