Like so many escaped slaves decades ago, Esther Bates followed the Underground Railroad north to Sandusky.
Bates, who died Monday at the age of 70, devoted much of her retirement years to researching Sandusky's role in the Underground Railroad and sharing that knowledge with others.
Bates served on the board of the Sandusky Underground Railroad Education Center since its start in 2005 and became president in April. She helped organize the center's trolley tours and fundraisers, even after developing thyroid cancer four years ago.
She led a trolley on July 17 in spite of her worsening illness, treasurer and friend MaryAnn Groot said.
"Mom was the type of person who could truly sit down and talk with anyone about anything," said Russell Bates III, her son. "And though she had her opinions, she would step back and let you share your opinion even if it differed. She'd stick to what she believed, but she'd hear you out."
Bates' family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Sandusky Underground Railroad Education Center, P.0. Box 836, Sandusky, OH 44870.