Cover photo for Esther Agra's Obituary
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1931 Esther 2024

Esther Agra

May 16, 1931 — January 30, 2024

Gilda Esther Ponz Agra (1931-2024)



Beloved mother and grandmother, Gilda Esther "Teté" Ponz Agra, 92, of Stone Mountain, GA, passed peacefully and surrounded by her family on January 30th, 2024.


Esther was born on May 16th, 1931 to Carmen Graciela Cabrera González and Enrique Angel Ponz in Habana, Cuba. The stories of her youth centered around the love and esteem with which she held her parents, grandparents, and tight knit family. As a young woman, Esther held a secretarial position at the Havana offices of the FNTA (Federación Nacional de Trabajadores Azucareros) where she met the love of her life, Carlos Agra, a hungry young accountant.


Esther and Carlos married in 1952 at Iglesia de San Juan Bosco, in Havana, and went on to have two daughters, Esther "Tersi" and Carmen "Coqui." As a young family, they were challenged by political upheaval and were forced to flee their homeland of Cuba for the United States.


In 1964 the family arrived in Decatur, GA, where she settled into a small Cuban community. The kindness and support of First Baptist Church of Decatur was central to their acclimation, and the church became a hub for daily life in their new home.


In the mid-seventies, Esther began a decades-long career at Davison's department store (later, Macy's) as a member of the shipping department. She had to learn a new skill, a new country, a new language and help navigate a family through the same. Loath to allow the barrier of language to hold her back, she learned "Esther English," and became a beloved employee of the company until her retirement.


Generosity and attentiveness defined her character. She was a lifelong and dedicated caretaker of her children and grandchildren, a legendary Cuban cook (if she could, she would have fed the world), and a Christian who lived her faith in service to others. She never forgot her native land and the people there, and for six decades sent weekly packages-both necessities and loving gifts--to friends and family back in Cuba.


Esther was a prolific storyteller who could transform tales of heartbreak and loss into ones of humor and wisdom. Her expeditions into daily life in America-such as the afternoon she haggled for a discount with a Dekalb County traffic court judge over a ticket (and received it!)-were notorious both within the family and across eager audiences. Her many adventures and misadventures have been retold in libraries, festivals, and on NPR through the voices of her daughters, Tersi and Coqui. She was a force of nature.


Esther is survived by her daughters Gilda Esther Bendiburg and Carmen Agra Deedy (John), her sister Elva Ponz Otero, her grandchildren Benjamin, Jordan, Katherine, Erin, and Lauren, and her great-grandchildren Ruby, Samuel, Grace, Avery, and Dom.


Esther's husband, Carlos, preceded her in 2017. She spent this seven-year span longing to reunite with him. Her long wait is over now. She is also preceded by her sister Carmen Dolores Ponz.


May we all live lives and face deaths with as much grace.


Funeral Service will be held at A S Turner Funeral Home and Crematory on Saturday, February 3, 2024 at 11:00 AM. There will be a reception following the funeral service.


https://vimeo.com/event/4063080

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Saturday, February 3, 2024

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Reception

Saturday, February 3, 2024

12:00 - 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

A. S. Turner & Sons Funeral Home & Crematory

2773 North Decatur Road, Decatur, GA 30033

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