Cover photo for Esther L. Hedfield's Obituary
Esther L. Hedfield Profile Photo

Esther L. Hedfield

May 29, 1934 — April 12, 2024

Middleton

Esther Hedfield, 89, passed away unexpectedly at home on April 12, 2024. She was born in Madison on May 29, 1934, the daughter of Dorothy (Whitford) and Nels Christian Lerdahl, and she grew up with her siblings Judith, Alfred and Stephen in Madison. 


Esther graduated from West High School in 1952 and attended Oberlin College and University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned both a Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Arts degree in Education - English. She was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. While at the University of Wisconsin she also studied classical piano, which fed her lifelong love of classical music. 


Esther married Hagen Hedfield of Madison on June 26, 1959. Together they raised their two daughters, Ellen and Susan, in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She enjoyed a long teaching career, culminating in her time at the University of Detroit, where she taught English as a Second Language.  It brought her great joy to teach and mentor international students, and she often welcomed them into her home for food and conversation. Following retirement, Esther and Hagen returned to the Madison area.  


Esther continued to derive great joy from music in her life. She was an enthusiastic member of the Euterpe and Allegro music clubs, and she delighted in performing with them. With Hagen, she attended Madison Symphony Orchestra performances for over 30 years. Also in retirement, Esther was a devoted mentor to a young Hmong-American student who went on to become an English teacher as well.  


Esther took great delight in being GMa” to her beloved granddaughters, Olivia and Claudia. She was loved for her compassion, kindness, and ability to laugh heartily. She instilled in her family a deep appreciation for nature and a great joy and gratitude for life. One of her favorite pastimes was sitting with Hagen on the deck of their home overlooking the Pheasant Branch Conservancy, having a cup of coffee or watching a sunset.  


Esther is survived by her husband of nearly 65 years, Hagen; daughters Ellen Hedfield and Susan Hedfield-Lerdahl; granddaughters Olivia Daponde and Claudia Daponde; and brothers Alfred Lerdahl and Stephen Lerdahl. She is predeceased by her sister, Judith. She is also survived by several cousins, nieces and nephews.  


An informal gathering in celebration of Esthers life will be held at the Cress Center, 6021 University Avenue, Madison from 12 until 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 12, 2024. A light lunch will be served. 


In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations may be made in Esthers name to the Madison Symphony Orchestra or The Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy. 


We welcome you to share your memories of Esther here on her Tribute Wall. 


Cress Center

6021 University Ave. Madison

(608) 238-8406



To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Esther L. Hedfield, please visit our flower store.

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