Irene O. Given
Irene Given , age 87, passed away on Friday, April 13, 2012, surrounded by family. In 1924, Irene was born in a farmhouse nestled in a valley among the bluffs near Mabel, Minnesota. Her parents, Mathilda and Adolph, were kept busy with Irene and her older siblings, Gordon, Helen, and Alatha. Younger brothers, Curtis and Wesley soon joined the group. They all worked hard during the Depression, making a living on their small farm. Life was different then. While growing up, one of Irene’s chores was cleaning the kerosene lamp chimneys. She also helped her mom cook on the wood-burning stove. Electricity never arrived at the farm while Irene was growing up. Now, her brother Curtis is the only surviving family member who recalls firsthand those day s of kerosene lamps and wood-burning stoves.
Irene graduated from Choice High School and moved to La Crosse. She worked as a nurse’s aid during World War II at the Lutheran Hospital. There she met Addison Johnson. They married and the following year their daughter, Sandra (Roger Tordoff), was born. Addison passed away when Sandra was an infant. Irene was a young woman left with a lot of responsibility.
A few years later, she met James (Jim) Given. They were married and were the proud parents of Jim and Kim (Thomas Bushey). In addition to her pride of family, Irene, for example, was proud of her work as Circle Chairman and her time spend as a Sunday School teacher at Trinity Lutheran Church.
The family moved as Jim’s manufacturing jobs required. She lived not only in La Crosse, but also Lake Mills, Iowa, Milwaukee, and Verona. She was a Verona resident for over 50 years. She worked for Sears at West Towne for almost 20 years.
In 1986, their son, Jim, a West Point graduate and Army pilot, was severely brain injured in a plane crash. For decades, Irene and Jim spent days each week with Jim at the Tomah VA. She serves as an example of a mother’s love and dedication.
She also was dedicated to Sandra, Kim and their families. She kept track of, prayed for, and was extraordinarily proud of her grandchildren, Brad Tordoff, Stacy Tordoff (Eric) Baker, Amber Bushey, and Colton Bushey. Her young great-grandsons, James and Evan Baker, brought enthusiastic and energetic joy to her life. Irene knew many joys and overcame many challenges, including the death of her husband, Jim, in 2003. Through it all, her faith remained her mainstay. Her faith added God’s light to each of her days. She now is basking in the full measure of God’s love and light. Well-earned, Irene. We love you.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 21, 2012, at ST. JAMES LUTHERAN CHURCH, 427 South Main Street, Verona. A visitation will be held from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Friday, April 20, 2012, at RYAN FUNERAL HOME, VERONA CHAPEL, 220 Enterprise Drive, and also from 10 a.m. until the time of service on Saturday at the church.
Irene requests that donations be made to either the American Cancer Society, Agrace HospiceCare, Inc., or the Tomah Wisconsin Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans.