Esther N. Guffy, 81, baker, world traveler, dog trainer


Esther N. Guffy, who traveled the world with her husband, died Saturday of complications from Alzheimer's disease at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. She was 81.

Born Esther Breon in Millheim, Pa., she attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., and graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California. She majored in political science.

"She was an `A' student her whole life," said her husband of 53 years, Wellard R. Guffy.

After graduating, she worked for the Navy, where she met her husband, who eventually became a captain.

Together, the two loved to see the world, and they made the most of it as Mr. Guffy's assignments took them from city to city across the United States.

"When we were assigned to an area, we liked to do a lot of sightseeing," Mr. Guffy said, adding that when they lived in Las Vegas, "we saw all the shows and went up to Mount Charles where you can throw snowballs at each other on the Fourth of July."

The couple were tourists in Hong Kong, "all over" Europe and the Orient. Mrs. Guffy never tired of excitement, her husband said. On one such adventure, "I took her to sea on a submarine, but I didn't let her fire any torpedoes," he said.

Of all the places they lived - including New York City; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and San Francisco - San Diego was probably her favorite. In fact, she loved their ranch house with white marble stucco so much, that when they moved to Ellicott City, Mr. Guffy had its twin built for her - except with a basement.

"As a result," he said, "she still loved this house up to the last."

Mrs. Guffy was a voracious reader, who after taking speed-reading courses, could devour a book a day, reading everything from fiction to political science and military topics.

She loved to cook and bake, and was particularly well-known for her cakes.

At Shriners events, "they always wanted to know where Esther Guffy's baked goods were because they wanted them first," Mr. Guffy said.

To raise money for a foreign exchange student program, she wrote a cookbook called "Recipes from Around the World."

"We raised three kids," Mr. Guffy said, "and they always said, `Mrs. Guffy cooks in seven languages.'"

The family had a penchant for black poodles, a series of seven through the years - all of them obedience-trained by Mrs. Guffy. They chose that breed, Mr. Guffy said, because they are smart and trainable, and did not shed on his naval uniform.

No services are planned.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Guffy is survived by two daughters, Diane Hughes of Williamsport, Pa., and Susan Stalker of Virginia Beach, Va.; a son, Dennis Stalker of Fayetteville, N.C.; and three grandchildren.

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