Ersell Hester Willard, 92, of Southern Pines, died Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021.

She was born April 7, 1928, to Nelle and Junius Hester and graduated from Colfax High School. In 1949, she graduated with honors from the North Carolina Baptist Hospital School of Nursing, beginning what became a 44-year career as a bedside nurse.

In October 1954, she married Ronald Willard, of High Point, to whom she was married for 39 years until his death. She was preceded in death by her sisters, Ann Morgan and Mary Ruth Large; and her brothers, Jim and Roger Hester.

She is survived by her daughters, Susan Elaine Willard, of Raleigh, and Dr. Ellen Willard (Ken Haenlein), of Southern Pines.

Generous with her gifts, her time and her compassion, her greatest gift to them, and to others who knew her, was her example.

A memorial service will be planned for a later date, when conditions allow gatherings.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the First Health Hospice Foundation, 150 Applecross Road, Pinehurst, NC 28374, or Union Cross Moravian Church, 4295 High Point Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27107.

Online condolences may be left at

Services are entrusted to Boles Funeral Home of Southern Pines.