|Birth: ||Jan. 21, 1922|
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA
|Death: ||Jan. 29, 2012|
Irene Helen Curtis died January 29, a week and a day past her 90th birthday, at the Manor at Elfindale.
Irene was born to John and Helen Kinnaird, immigrants from Scotland and Finland, respectively, on January 21, 1922 in New York City and grew-up in the small village of Garrison-on-Hudson, NY. Irene was the widow of Col. (U S Army, Ret.) Wesley J. Curtis and the mother of John W. Curtis of Greenwich CT and Carol E. Curtis and William R. Curtis of Springfield, who survive her. In a life characterized by optimism, determination, graciousness and thoughtfulness towards others, Irene was a leader, teacher, community volunteer and cherished friend to many, as well as a devoted and loving wife and mother. Irene's strength of character made her someone her family and friends will remember with great love and fond memories of her indomitable spirit that was not deterred even as dementia took its increasing toll in her last few years.
Irene entered Syracuse University at the age of sixteen, the first member of her family to attend college. She graduated in 1942, having served as the president of her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, and on the staff of the university's Daily Orange newspaper and as an editor of its yearbook. Irene taught social studies at Goshen (NY) High School from 1942 – 1946.
Irene met Wesley, a cadet from the Ozarks, on a blind date at West Point in 1940. Irene fell in love with Wesley as he courted her through eloquent letters written while serving in World War II. Irene and Wesley married on November 23, 1946, soon after he returned with the rank of major from serving in combat in the Philippines and in occupied Japan.
Irene embraced and thrived on the life of an Army officer's wife, fully supporting and participating in Wesley's career, notwithstanding three one-year absences due to Wesley's service, in the Korean War, again in Korea a decade later and in Viet Nam. She created a welcoming and gracious home for him, their children, relatives, many friends and pets in various locations in the US and Europe they called home during Wesley's 30 years of military service. She continued teaching in various ways: in continuing education of soldiers at Ft. Leavenworth KS; as a sought-after substitute in many school systems; and, while Wesley was in Viet Nam, as a full time teacher at a Virginia high school. She also was – often as a maestro directing her husband and children – an avid gardener, amateur landscape architect and interior designer. Irene came close to reading every book on the modern British royal family, with a special soft spot for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
After Wesley retired in 1973, they moved to Springfield to be near his aging parents and to begin a new phase in their lives as active volunteers and contributing citizens of their adopted city. Irene gave many years of service to St. Mary's Guild of Christ Episcopal Church, working at the Next-to-New Shop with her dear friend Peg George. Along with Wesley and several others, Irene was instrumental in founding the Springfield chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). Irene served on the board of what is now NAMI of SW Missouri and also on the board of the Springfield Sheltered Workshops, Inc., where her son William has worked for over thirty years. Irene's devotion to William and her insistence on his full participation in church and all family activities impressed all who were privileged to witness their love, special bond and mutual respect.
In addition to her husband, Irene was preceded in death by her only brother John Kinnaird and her brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Robert and Edith (Curtis) Fawver. Besides her children, Irene is survived by her daughter-in-law Margaret Sarkela of Greenwich CT and her grandchildren Sarah and John V. Curtis of New York, NY; her sister-in-law Joan Kennedy Kinnaird of College Park MD; her nephews John Kinnaird of College Park MD and Stephen Kinnaird and family of Chevy Chase MD; and her niece Anita Sue Fawver Godshall and family of Mt. Kisco, NY. She also leaves behind many friends and acquaintances who, along with her family, will miss Irene's remarkable light blue eyes and warm smile.
The family wishes to thank the staffs of Creekside and the Manor at Elfindale and the Commerce Bank Trust Department for the care and companionship they provided to Irene during her final years; and the St. John's/Mercy Hospital doctors and nurses and Preferred Hospice and Manor nurses and staff who cared for Irene in her final days. Memorial contributions, in lieu of flowers, may be made to NAMI of SW MO, Springfield Sheltered Workshops, Inc. or Christ Episcopal Church of Springfield.
Funeral services, under the direction of Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home, will be held at Christ Episcopal Church at 11 am on Saturday, February 4. Irene's remains will rest in the Columbarium of Christ Episcopal Church.
Memorial Networks™ Partner
Wesley James Curtis (1918 - 2008)
Christ Episcopal Church Columbarium
Created by: Lyle & Marsha
Record added: Feb 22, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 85389112
Lyle & Marsha
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