Esme Barnes

Esme Barnes

It is with great sadness I report on the death of Esme Barnes:



Family-Placed Obituary

ESME BARNES ROOT September 3, 1948 – September 6, 2012 Esme Root of Palm Beach County, Florida and Wayne, ME died peacefully on Thursday, September 6 at her Wayne home in the company of loved ones. She was 64. Esme’s natural grace, intelligence, heart and tenacity sustained her and all who loved her during a year-long struggle with ovarian cancer. With the devoted care of her daughter, Maegan, the support of her son, Ethan and son-in-law, Josh Gaffey, and the aid of her medical teams at Dana Farber Institute in Boston and the Alfond Center in Augusta, ME, Esme remained fully engaged in her treatment and her life until her birthday on Monday, September 3, 2012.

Born Esme Alexandra Barnes in New York City, NY Esme was raised in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ with summers spent in Wayne, ME shaping her personal vision of paradise. Her father, Dr. William A. Barnes, trained generations of surgeons as senior clinical professor of surgery at the Cornell-Weill Medical College/New York Hospital and maintained private practices in New York and New Jersey. Her mother, Dr. Shirley Mayer Barnes, served variously as Director of New York’s Child and Maternal Health Bureau, Deputy Commissioner of Public Health for New York City, and New Jersey State Health Commissioner. Always proud of her parents’ accomplishments, Esme followed her graduation from Emma Willard School in Troy, NY by training as a nurse at Briarcliff College in the Hudson Valley, but ultimately devoted her life to her children and family. Eventually she found great joy in bringing her warm and welcoming nature to work when she established her 1836 Franklin House in Wayne as a seasonal bed and breakfast in the summer of 2001.

She was an adventurous and free-spirited woman who never missed an opportunity to see as much as the world would offer to her. Esme loved travel and particularly delighted in the trips she took with her daughter to Istanbul, Paris and Tokyo, but also lived for a time in Ireland and loved her most recent trip abroad to Italy. Even more recently, accompanied by her son Ethan, she realized a life-long desire to tour the Androscoggin skies from a sea-plane less than two weeks before her death.

Esme is predeceased by her parents and eldest child, Stefan Alexander Sessler. She is survived by her daughter, Maegan Fee Gaffey, her son Ethan Samuel Root, and her brothers Kit Barnes, Robin Barnes, and George Barnes. She will forever be missed by countless more as she was a devoted friend, daughter, sister, aunt, and cousin as well as an accomplished and thoughtful hostess with the gift of truly caring for others and a smile for all those she met.

A private memorial was held this weekend in Wayne, ME. Another memorial will be held in Florida in early October. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Esme’s name can be made to the Androscoggin Lake Improvement Corporation ( ), the Dana Farber Institute in Boston ( ), and the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care ( ). To express condolences and/or make donations Visit

Published in The Palm Beach Post from September 16 to September 23, 2012