Esther Kovalak

November 16, 1916 ~ May 25, 2021 (age 104) 104 Years Old
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Esther (Major) Myers Kovalyak, 104, of Punxsutawney passed away peacefully on Tuesday May 25, 2021 at Mulberry Square Elder Care in Punxsutawney.


She was born in Punxsutawney, PA. November 16, 1916, a daughter of the late Karl (Major) Myers and Elizabeth (Fajvan) Myers.


Esther married her husband, Joe Benda (whom she met at the Borden Ice Cream Factory in New York City), She told her courtship story to all of her friends with great happiness and delight on many occasions. . Together they raised one daughter JoAnn Benda.


She was Catholic in faith.


Esther was a wonderful storyteller and never left out a single detail as she told friends and caregivers many stories of her being raised in New York City. Up until the time of her death, Esther could recall addresses in New York City of places where she had lived, worked, and went on dates with her husband.  She told everyone she knew that her secret to living to age 104 was the tremendous fish she ate in New York City! Esther touched many lives with her storytelling.


She talked many times of surviving the 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and she said over and over, “I survived that pandemic, and I will survive this current one!” (Covid-19). She recalled story after story about the Spanish Flu and told of family members that did not survive. Friends often told Esther that she was one of a few that indeed did survive both Pandemics!


Esther was feisty as well! Prior to her time at Mulberry Square, Esther lived at AM/PM Personal Care Home, She took care of her personal effects and exercised daily.


Esther held many jobs over the years including working at the Borden Ice Cream factory in New York City, and serving as a caretaker for many people in the Punxsutawney area. She was hardworking and dedicated.  She lived a full life and was known by friends to live by her belief of “Love is all there is.”.


She is survived by her daughter JoAnn Benda; her nieces Betty and Janet: her nephews David Myers and Ricky Major; as well as many special friends including Cindi Bochert McCrobie, Connie Giroskey and Laura Mesoraco,  She also became close friends with many of her caretakers at AM/PM Care Home,  who all cared greatly for her.


 She was preceded in death by her parents; her first husband Joe Benda; her second husband Fred Kovalyak and  her best friend Lelia Smith.


A committal service will be held at the Calvary Cemetery in Punxsutawney on Tuesday June 1 at 11:00 AM.


Her funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the Richard L Fait Funeral Home in Punxsutawney, PA.  Condolence messages to her friends and family may be left on the Fait Funeral Home website at


Donations in memory of Esther can be made to Punxsutawney Home Health or Heritage Hospice, LLC of New Kensington, PA., 15069

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June 1, 2021

11:00 AM
Calvary Cemetery


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