Cover photo for Esther (DeBree)  Korzilius's Obituary
Esther (DeBree)  Korzilius Profile Photo
1936 Esther 2023

Esther (DeBree) Korzilius

September 22, 1936 — May 28, 2023

Kalamazoo, MI & Grand Rapids, MI

Esther Korzilius’ life was in service: to her family, to her church, being a nurse.  It was all about doing for others for Esther. She was a caregiver in her family from the time she had her first child, until she passed.

Esther DeBree Korzilius was born in Kalamazoo Michigan on September 22, 1936, to Nelson and Mary DeBree. Esther was bold as a young woman. She only had a small amount of money to her name and went to local Catholic school Nazareth College to beg the sisters to admit her, even though she was Protestant and didn’t have enough money.

In the midst of school, she got married to Josef Korzilius on June 8, 1956, and finished nursing school in 1957. Her term paper was The Married Woman in Active Nursing. She worked as an RN for 20 years. She scrubbed as a surgical nurse with Dr. Stryker. Later she worked at Rambling Road Pediatrics, until her family moved from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Esther deeply loved music. She was a church organist who played for numerous churches, weddings, and funerals. She was a member of the American Guild of Organists for nearly 50 years, and the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus for over a decade. She performed the Messiah nearly every Christmas.

Esther was always on the go. Two weeks before she passed, she was in New Orleans traveling with friends. Travel was one of her chief joys, especially with her spouse and friends. She visited most of the continents of the world. As she got older, she loved visiting family around the US and world. She always returned home to Michigan.

Esther’s deep Christian faith infused her life of service. She was very involved in church. She served as a Deacon in her later years and was a representative for Synod at 80 years old. She was always heavily involved in Women’s Ministries including coffee breaks, Bible studies, mentoring, sewing for impoverished children around the world, and prison ministry.

Esther passed following a brief illness on Sunday, May 28 at Bronson Methodist Hospital. The night before she passed, she was singing hymns. The night she passed, she was still mouthing the words to the hymns as they played and were sung by her sister and granddaughter. She went into the arms of her Beautiful Savior with her hand held and her heart at peace.

She was exceedingly loyal to those she loved. Esther was married to her beloved husband Josef Korzilius for 60 years before he passed in 2016. She was preceded in death by her daughter Connie Graff. She is survived by her sons Josef (Joan) Korzilius, and Brian Korzilius; her grandchildren, Rebecca (Dean) Kerl, Tim (Christy) Graff, Josef Korzilius, Jacki (Kim) Hamner, and Jazmyn Korzilius; and great-grandchildren, Alex, Jordyn, Selah Esther, Christopher, Leopold, Brayden, and Arlo; her sister, Nancy (John) Bonnema; and many nieces and nephews.

Friends may visit with the family from 4-7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 7th at Langeland Family Funeral Homes Burial & Cremation Services, 3926 S. 9th St, Kalamazoo MI 49009. The funeral service will be held 11 a.m. on Thursday, June 8th at Third Christian Reformed Church, 2400 Winchell Ave. Kalamazoo, MI 49008. Rev. Derek M. Zeyl will officiate. Private interment will be held in Ft. Custer National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to Kalamazoo Christian School Association, Third Christian Reformed Church, or the American Guild of Organists. To view Esther’s personalized web page, please visit

To order memorial trees in memory of Esther (DeBree) Korzilius, please visit our tree store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Wednesday, June 7, 2023

4:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

Langeland Family Funeral Homes, Inc.

3926 South 9th Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Third Christian Reformed Church

2400 Winchell Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49008

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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