Esther Ann Clinton 1971-2022
Admired by her colleagues and loved by all, Dr. Esther Clinton was a remarkable scholar, celebrated teacher, and rivetingly energetic presenter of ideas, who was taken from us far, far too soon. She had the rare ability to make people feel better about themselves, because she herself was so unselfish, full of encouraging words, and always willing to accommodate different students and learning styles. While a part of Bowling Green State University's world-famous Department of Popular Culture, Esther taught classes on heroes, villains, and tricksters; folktales, popular literature; world religions; and advanced cultural theory. She presented at academic conferences around the world and published widely, in areas ranging from proverb use in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, to parallels between heavy metal music and gothic literature, to the intersection of postcolonial theory and ethnomusicology.
Her classes were known for their intellectual rigor. Esther encouraged students to question taken-for-granted assumptions and to grapple with the burning issues of existence. She was a favorite among graduate students and served on over sixty thesis committees. Yet for all her academic, pedagogical, and creative accomplishments, Esther will primarily be remembered for her kindness and her almost superhuman powers of empathy.
Esther was an avid needleworker, painter and voracious reader of fiction. Her well-known love of dragons, mermaids, wizards, hobbits, and other creatures of legend and lore formed the basis for many of her creative projects, which she often gave away to friends and family. She also loved to travel and explore, embracing new foods, languages, musics, cultures, and places-from Japan to Ireland to the Philippines and beyond--with tremendous enthusiasm.
Esther Ann Clinton was born on December 17, 1971 in Bloomington, Indiana to Mildred (Demont) Clinton and Nye Atwood Clinton. She was predeceased by her father, Nye, with whom she was quite close. The elder Dr. Clinton was a chemist with a PhD from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who managed other research chemists at Union Carbide. Esther attended Brewster High School, Hampshire College, and the University of Indiana, where she earned an MA and PhD in Folklore with a minor in Old English and German philology. She came to BGSU already a seasoned instructor: before coming to Ohio, she taught at Indiana University, Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, Bergen County Community College, Hudson County Community College, West Virginia State University, and Marshall University. She is survived by her loving, devoted husband Jeremy Wallach, her mother Millie, her brother Nye Jr., her sister-in-law Miyoko, niece Haruka, and her sister-in-all-but-name Carla Keirns. Esther was very close to her husband's family: his brothers, sisters-in-law, their children, and especially his parents, Paula and Larry Wallach. In addition she will be recalled fondly and profoundly missed by a global community of friends, colleagues, and students from Brazil to New Zealand, Finland to Indonesia.
Esther will be remembered for her kindness to all, her dedication to her students and moral convictions, her infectious laughter, penetrating intellect, and commitment to nurturing a new generation of scholars.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Esther’s memory to The Cocoon, P.O. Box 1165, Bowling Green, OH 43402 a 501(c)3 organization providing shelter and services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence:
Visitation for Esther will be held on Monday, July 25, 2022 from 2:00 pm until the time of her Celebration of Life service at 3:00 pm at Deck-Hanneman Funeral Home, 1460 W Wooster Street, Bowling Green www.hannemanfuneralhomes.com. The family is mandating that everyone in attendance wears a mask. For those unable to attend the celebration of life service in person, it will livestream via Hanneman Family Funeral Homes Facebook page.