Irma De Bruycker

Irma De Bruycker

Birth
Belgium
Death
1 Jan 1980 (aged 79)
Conrad, Pondera County, Montana, USA
Burial
Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown
Memorial ID
118927410 View Source

Owner of Neighborhood Store;
Friend of Neighborhood Children

Irma lived in Mishawaka, Indiana, at 1023 S. Union. Her home was in the back of her house, and her little neighborhood store was in the front. Hanging from the ceiling in her store were mobiles of moons and planets and stars. On the walls, she displayed photos of neighborhood children, mainly from the nearby Emmons Elementary School. In addition to milk and bread, Irma sold candy and bubble gum and Popsicles and candy cigarettes and wax bottles and comic books, and she took the time to talk with the neighborhood children who would stop in. The candies were sorted on the counter, and children would step up and select their treats for the day. Some children would stop in almost every day after school. Decades later, those grown "children" described Irma as an "amazing woman"; "a nice, caring person, who had a way to make you think you were special to her"; "a great, friendly, neighborhood icon"; "the most patient person in the world." As one of her former child-customers said, "A kid could spend an hour in her store trying to decide how to spend three cents, and she would never hurry you up or complain about it." Irma also was an amateur astronomer. In 1945, she was described as "a vigilant rationalist who has done splendid work in discrediting astrology." She had a 10-inch reflector telescope that she had built herself. She kept it on a cart that she would roll out at night, and she would let the neighborhood children look at the heavens. One of her former child-customers remembered 50 years later, "I saw the rings around Saturn and the craters on the moon through her telescope in front of her store." She was a member of the Bethel College Astronomy Club and lectured at the college several times.

Irma was the daughter of Henry De Bruycker (1868-1944) and his wife Maria Justine Bruggeman (1868-1941). Irma likely was born in Selzaete, in the province of Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium; her twin brothers had been born there five years earlier: Achiel (1895-1987) and Rudolph (1895-1925). On March 7, 1914, Irma and her family left from Antwerp, Belgium, on the ship Zeeland. They arrived in New York City, New York, on March 17, 1914. The family first lived in Teton County, Montana, where Irma's father farmed and where Irma worked as a cook in a private home. By 1923, the family had moved to Mishawaka, where Irma worked as a weaver and her brothers worked as shoemakers. Her brother Rudolph died in 1925, and by 1927 her brother Achiel had moved back to Montana. Before 1930, her parents started the little neighborhood store at 1023 S. Union, just south of 11th Street in Mishawaka. They sold milk, bread, candy, gasoline, and such. By 1940, Irma's parents were 71, and Irma was the only one working. Her mother died in 1941; her father, in 1944. Irma never married, and she had no children. She was Roman Catholic and had a dog she called "Rusty." She lived in Mishawaka until about two months before her death when she moved to Montana. She was survived by her brother Achiel and by four nephews: Raymond, Lloyd, Roger, and Rudolph.

Irma's obituary appeared in the South Bend Tribune, South Bend, Indiana, on January 10, 1980, at page 46.

Owner of Neighborhood Store;
Friend of Neighborhood Children

Irma lived in Mishawaka, Indiana, at 1023 S. Union. Her home was in the back of her house, and her little neighborhood store was in the front. Hanging from the ceiling in her store were mobiles of moons and planets and stars. On the walls, she displayed photos of neighborhood children, mainly from the nearby Emmons Elementary School. In addition to milk and bread, Irma sold candy and bubble gum and Popsicles and candy cigarettes and wax bottles and comic books, and she took the time to talk with the neighborhood children who would stop in. The candies were sorted on the counter, and children would step up and select their treats for the day. Some children would stop in almost every day after school. Decades later, those grown "children" described Irma as an "amazing woman"; "a nice, caring person, who had a way to make you think you were special to her"; "a great, friendly, neighborhood icon"; "the most patient person in the world." As one of her former child-customers said, "A kid could spend an hour in her store trying to decide how to spend three cents, and she would never hurry you up or complain about it." Irma also was an amateur astronomer. In 1945, she was described as "a vigilant rationalist who has done splendid work in discrediting astrology." She had a 10-inch reflector telescope that she had built herself. She kept it on a cart that she would roll out at night, and she would let the neighborhood children look at the heavens. One of her former child-customers remembered 50 years later, "I saw the rings around Saturn and the craters on the moon through her telescope in front of her store." She was a member of the Bethel College Astronomy Club and lectured at the college several times.

Irma was the daughter of Henry De Bruycker (1868-1944) and his wife Maria Justine Bruggeman (1868-1941). Irma likely was born in Selzaete, in the province of Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium; her twin brothers had been born there five years earlier: Achiel (1895-1987) and Rudolph (1895-1925). On March 7, 1914, Irma and her family left from Antwerp, Belgium, on the ship Zeeland. They arrived in New York City, New York, on March 17, 1914. The family first lived in Teton County, Montana, where Irma's father farmed and where Irma worked as a cook in a private home. By 1923, the family had moved to Mishawaka, where Irma worked as a weaver and her brothers worked as shoemakers. Her brother Rudolph died in 1925, and by 1927 her brother Achiel had moved back to Montana. Before 1930, her parents started the little neighborhood store at 1023 S. Union, just south of 11th Street in Mishawaka. They sold milk, bread, candy, gasoline, and such. By 1940, Irma's parents were 71, and Irma was the only one working. Her mother died in 1941; her father, in 1944. Irma never married, and she had no children. She was Roman Catholic and had a dog she called "Rusty." She lived in Mishawaka until about two months before her death when she moved to Montana. She was survived by her brother Achiel and by four nephews: Raymond, Lloyd, Roger, and Rudolph.

Irma's obituary appeared in the South Bend Tribune, South Bend, Indiana, on January 10, 1980, at page 46.


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