Irilene Denney was born on the easily-remembered date of April 19, 1919. She was born before women had the right to vote and lived long enough to have the opportunity to vote for a woman for President. Nobody will know for whom she voted but the point is that she saw some incredible changes during her long life.
She was born in Worth County, Missouri to Alma and Rex Rowe. She grew up in the very small town of Redding, Iowa where she attended school until she returned to Missouri to graduate from Northeast Missouri State Teacher’s College. After that she taught Home Economics in Silver City, Iowa. In 1941 she married Nelson H. Denney, also from Redding, Iowa.
It wasn’t long before Nelson was off to serve in World War II and Irilene found herself doing what all women did during that time: keeping the country together. She was able to follow Nelson around the country until he was deployed in the South Pacific. During this time their daughter Thelma Sue was born in Laughton, Oklahoma. Now Irilene had additional responsibilities but was able to teach home economics and calculus in Hopkins, Missouri. With this income and what Nelson sent home she was able to build a nest egg for a fresh start after the war.
The family moved to Fort Collins, Colorado where Nelson built their first home and Sue grew up. Irilene became a valuable member of the community where she was a substitute teacher, 4-H leader, square dancer and good mother (ask Sue for her buttermilk pancake recipe).
As time went on Nelson built a cabin at Redfeather Lakes and Irilene learned to fish and golf. On a fishing trip to Alaska she caught “the fish of the day,” a ninety pound halibut (a real achievement since she never weighed more than about 110 pounds) and in a golf game in California she got “the shot of the day,” a hole-in-one.
By this time most of the Iowa family was living in Fort Collins and Irilene supervised lots of pot lucks and holiday celebrations.
By 2002 Irilene and Nelson decided to move to Washington since most of their Colorado family was now living there. A notable exception was her beloved cousin Ramona Parker from Fort Collins, who called her daily. They wanted to live in the mountains and found that Leavenworth was like Colorado with a Bavarian flavor.
In 2010 they moved into assisted living at Mountain Meadows where Irilene was able to enter a quilt in the Leavenworth Quilt Show. She had been working on it for 10 years and it paid off—Best in Show.
Irilene was a member of the Methodist Churches in Fort Collins, Mesa Arizona and Leavenworth. She also helped found the Chapel in the Pines in Redfeather Lakes, where she ran the Thrift Shop.
She will be missed by all her friends at Mountain Meadows and every other place where she brightened days. She is survived by her husband Nelson, daughter Sue and her husband Jim, from Ellensburg, Washington, Grandson Jay Briggs and his wife Roxie from Ellensburg and Granddaughter Amy Maher and her husband Bob from Kirkland, Washington. Irilene has four great grandchildren (Jake Briggs, Julia Maher, Madison Briggs and Andrew Maher) with whom she played many card games and fixed many pancake breakfasts.
Graveside services were conducted 2:00 p.m. Sunday, April 23, 2017 at Redding Cemetery, Redding, Iowa with Rev. Skip Rushing officiating.
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, March of 2017