Esther G. Corcoran, a retired Maryland Blue Cross and Blue Shield supervisor who had been treasurer of her native Nebraska county, died of congestive heart failure Oct. 3 at Brightview Assisted Living in Towson. She was 93 and was a longtime Lutherville resident.
Born Esther Gallawa in Scottsbluff, Neb., she was the daughter of John Gallawa, a carpenter, and Mary Weimer, Russian immigrants of German descent who fled the Bolshevik Revolution. They came to Winnipeg, Canada, and eventually settled in Scottsbluff.
She was one of 12 children, and as a child, she helped her siblings and parents harvest sugar beets.
“She missed the first six weeks of school every year because of the harvest, but still graduated with the encouragement of one of her teachers,” said a daughter, Judith R. Corcoran of Baltimore.
“In later years, she said she did not like to be outdoors much. She had spent too much of her youth picking beets. She was a strong and was a tough part of a close knit family. They sang together in the fields as a way of staying close and keep passing the time.”
She graduated from Scottsbluff High School in 1942 and took a job in the Scotts Bluff County treasurer’s office in Gering, Neb. In 1945 she was appointed deputy county treasurer and worked at that post until she was appointed county treasurer in 1947.
In a memoir, Mrs. Corcoran wrote that she was the first female county treasurer in the state of Nebraska. “At the age of 22, I was also the youngest county treasurer to serve,” she wrote.
On Dec. 20, 1947, she resigned to marry Robert Edward Corcoran, a chemist who worked in radiation protection. They moved to Denver, where he was attending the University of Denver. She joined the university in its purchasing department and later was an accounts receivable worker at Denver’s Gates Rubber Co.
"Esther was raised in a small Midwestern town, and she typified the Midwestern culture, priorities and ethics. She took pride in her culture and her family,” said a brother, Walter Gallawa of Sacramento, Calif.
“My mother was a determined and strong person. She had a lot of fight in her,” said her daughter. “She was independent and showed us, her daughters, how to care care of ourselves.”
When her husband was called to military service during the Korean War, she moved to Fort Riley, Kan. She later returned to Scottsbluff and worked in accounting at the Great Western Sugar Co. located there. After moving to the Oak Ridge National Lab in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where her husband worked, she and her husband settled in Lutherville in 1960, where she raised her daughters as her husband worked for the Martin-Marietta Corp.
Mrs. Corcoran joined the Bendix Radio Corp. on East Joppa Road in 1962. She then became a supervisor in the sales department at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland. She retired in 1986. She was later active in its retirees association.
“She was strong-willed and could be dry in her wit,” said another daughter, Janenne J. Corcoran of Manchester. “She had a presence that could be intimidating. But she was likable and had a charismatic charm.”
Mrs. Corcoran enjoyed re-creating the German dishes her mother made. She also hosted members of her extended family on visits to Baltimore, arranging trips for them to the old Haussner’s restaurant and leading tours of Washington, D.C. She and her husband also returned to Nebraska and Colorado for annual visits..
“She loved her family and she loved Scottsbluff,” said son-in-law Michael Lang. “She recalled her youth there, and how it was her immigrant family going up against the world. There was a tremendous bond” among her family members.
She was a member of a duckpin bowling league that competed with friends at the Fairlanes alleys. She also played bridge and and made afghans. She read widely and enjoyed historical fiction. She was a member of the Maryland Presbyterian Church.
A memorial service will be held at 3:30 p.m. Monday at the Lake Roland Nature Center, 1000 Lakeside Drive.
In addition to her daughters, brother and son-in-law, survivors include another brother, Robert Gallawa of Boulder, Colo.; and nieces and nephews. Her husband of 61 years died in 2008.