Esteros says humor is the key to telling a good story and living to 97: "This is why we told stories during the war. You just wouldn't have made it if you couldn't have laughed. (Park Bugle photo by Lori Hamilton)

Gertrude Esteros. Park Bugle photo by Lori Hamilton

Gertrude Esteros of Falcon Heights, head of the University of Minnesota Department of Design for 30 years and founder of the Goldstein Gallery (now the Goldstein Museum of Design), died Dec. 2. She was 102.

The daughter of Finnish immigrants, Esteros was born in Cloquet, Minn., on Oct. 1, 1914. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the U of M in 1936 and 1941, respectively, and a doctorate in fine arts education from Columbia University in 1958.

Esteros was teaching at a small college in Missouri in 1941, when the U.S. entered World War II. She quit her teaching job and volunteered for the American Red Cross, working as a hospital recreation worker in New Guinea and the Philippines.

After the war, she joined the faculty at the U of M. A housing expert, she took a lead role in developing 1666 Coffman, a condominium complex for retired University employees on Larpenteur Avenue.

In September 2014, Falcon Heights Mayor Peter Lindstrom declared Oct. 1, 2014, Gertrude Esteros Day in the city.

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