Esther Jane Lane

Esther Jane Lane celebrates her 89th birthday.

KNOX — Esther Jane Lane was drawn to medicine, working as a hospital transcriptionist until the age of 82. Growing up in the Depression, she was frugal and modest, caring for her family and others.

She died peacefully at home on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. She was 89.

“She was modest, witty, and generous,” her family wrote in a tribute. “She read from her Bible and devotional guidebooks every day.”

Ms. Lane, who used her maiden name, was born in Forest Hills, Pennsylvania. “She grew up in steel-mill country,” said her daughter, Amy Pokorny. “That’s where she learned her habits of being frugal and modest...The Depression era reinforced that.”

Her father worked as a movie projectionist and was always employed. Her mother ran a boarding house for construction workers along the highway. “She bought 40 cots and had some in each room. She housed and fed the workers for a dollar a day,” said Ms. Pokorny.

“My mother would say, ‘We always had something to eat, even if it was only white bread with onion and ketchup,’” recalled Ms. Pokorny.

Ms. Lane was good at school and was interested in becoming a doctor. “She wanted to go to medical school,” said her daughter. She earned her bachelor's degree at Waynesburg College in Pennsylvania, where she met and married John Richard Lauterbach.

“She got that far,” said Ms. Pokorny of her mother’s education. She devoted herself to raising her two daughters, Amy and Ann, and also filled the role of minister’s wife; her husband was a Presbyterian minister.

As a mother, Ms. Lane “talked about healthy neglect,” her daughter said. “She was not a helicopter mother. She let us go outside to play barefoot. We had to be home by the time the streetlights were on.” This was in Windsor, New York, which Ms. Pokorny compared to Altamont.

“She was always interested in medicine,” her daughter said, and, after raising her family, Ms. Lane worked for Binghamton General Hospital as a laboratory technician. Handling diseased tissue, her daughter said, “She caught hepatitis. That set her back and damaged her liver.”

Not giving up on medicine, Ms. Lane then became a medical transcriptionist. She worked as a transcriptionist in the Radiology Department at Albany Medical Center until her retirement at age 82.

She lived near the hospital and would walk to work and back home every day, said her daughter. “She said she always relied on the goodness of strangers,” said Ms. Pokorny. For example, people would offer umbrellas or rides if it rained.

Her favorite charity was the Capital City Rescue Mission. “With her daily reading of the Bible, she wanted to be Christ-like, to take care of the needy. She saw the poor in Albany as she walked to work,” said her daughter. “”She wanted to help.”

Two-and-a-half years ago, Ms. Lane moved to Knox to live with Ms. Pokorny and her husband, Russell. She enjoyed erranding with her daughter and was especially fond of Joe Adriance at the transfer station, Ms. Pokorny said.

She enjoyed solving word puzzles. “She was good at scrabble and puns and wordplay,” said Ms. Pokorny.  She used $50 bills to thank her family members for small favors. She loved coffee, blueberry muffins, and chocolate ice cream.  

Ms. Lane stayed in good shape, walking daily with her daughter. Her death came as a surprise.

“Her heart gave out,” said Ms. Pokorny. “She lived well until it was over.”


Esther Jane Lane is survived by her daughter, Amy Lauterbach Pokorny, and her husband, Russell; by her sisters, Shirley Kurth and Penny Lane; by her grandchildren, John Lauterbach, Ada Lauterbach, and Lucas Ecker; and by many nieces and nephews, and their children.

Her daughter, Ann Ecker, and her brother, Harry Lane, died before her.

Arrangements are by Fredendall funeral Home of Altamont. A private memorial service is planned for family.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Capital City Rescue Mission, 259 South Pearl Street, Albany, NY 12202.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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