Minnesota's Lily Hybridizers
Esther Gontarek
Owatonna, Minnesota

On October 8, 1967, 48 people met to create and organize the North Star Lily Society and among them was an enthusiastic secretary from Owatonna named Esther Gontarek. She loved to grow flowers. Curious to learn more about lilies, in 1961 she joined the North American Lily Society and become an even more focused lily grower. She joined several "lily robins" in which members often exchanged seeds. Esther's seedlings were highly regarded. A yellow Asiatic she raised earned the Certificate of Commendation at the 1974 NALS. She named it L. 'Candelabra' and in 1976 with the assistance of Julius Wadekamper, it was registered and released to the public through Borbeleta Gardens.

Esther was an active member and volunteer who participated in NSLS shows and for awhile took an active role as society historian. North Star Lily Newsletters show her consistent support of our society in its formative years through the 1970s. Early in the 1980's Esther's address in the annual membership directory changed. From Owatonna, Minnesota it appears she moved to California to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren. It is there that she passed away.

While she may not have taken on major leadership roles in the NSLS, she was always there to lend a helping hand, and she did, for many years show how to grow beautiful seedling lilies in a garden.