Irene Brunskill, of Turlock, passed away at her home, Paramount Court Senior Living, on Wednesday. She was 94 years old.
Irene was born six miles from the Mississippi River in a farm house in Giard, Iowa. She was the only child of Atherton and Esther Wickersheim. She attended a one room school house in Giard until she left for Monona, Iowa to attend high school. Irene was the first person in her family to attend college. She graduated from Iowa State Teachers College, now the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, with a teaching certificate in 1943. She taught elementary school in Arlington, Iowa where she lived with several other teachers in a “teacherage.”
Irene’s teaching career did not last long, as she met her future husband, Clyde “Buck” Brunskill, and decided it would be more fun to spend her days with him on his family dairy farm than in a classroom with second graders. They married in a small historic Methodist Chapel on what, according to Buck, was the hottest day of the century, July 14, 1946. In 1948 they welcomed their first child, Thomas, and in 1952 their daughter Mary.
In 1954 the wanderlust struck and they moved their family from the dairy in Cedar Falls, Iowa to Turlock, California where Buck was employed as a Quality Control Supervisor for International Paper Company. An opportunity to work for the Turlock School District opened up at Julien School, one block away from their home on Canal Drive. Irene worked there until she became the Secretary at Osborn School. A few years later, Stanislaus State would open its doors at Geer and Monte Vista, and Irene would be offered the job as the Secretary for the Physical Education Department. She eventually moved on to become the Secretary for the Dean of Education where she remained until her retirement in 1989.
In spite of being a full-time working mom, Irene always found time to help with Tom and Mary’s activities. She taught Sunday school, helped with Brownies and Scouts, and even did the ordering for all of the Turlock Little League concession stands the years that Buck coached Little League and Tom played. She sorted countless cartons of Bubble Gum, Chick-O-Sticks, and Abba Zabba bars on her kitchen table. She was an outstanding cook, providing not only family meals but treats for friends and neighbors. She not only served as an administrative assistant at the college, but also served as the Dean of Homework for Tom and Mary due to her “off the charts” typing skills.
Irene was a life-long learner. Upon her retirement, she joined the Garden Club, Turlock Senior Citizens, and Meals on Wheels. She loved being a part of the First United Methodist Church where she met many of her closest friends while working side-by-side on committees and in the kitchen. She served many times as President of the United Methodist Women and she also was a member of PEO, Chapter OQ. She was an avid Giants fan and a voracious reader. Irene became a “short order” cook for her grandchildren in 1985 when Buck decided it would be a good idea for her to make pancakes for their grandson, Nathan, before his first day of kindergarten. Making breakfast for the grandkids every day before school became a tradition that lasted 17 years, until the youngest of the grandkids graduated from high school. She also sewed clothing for her grandchildren, completed countless cross stitch projects, and enjoyed traveling with her dear friend Corrine Volk.
Irene was preceded in death by her parents, husband, and son-in-law Steven Volk. She leaves behind her children: Tom (Lavonne) Brunskill of Turlock and Mary Volk of Turlock and seven grandchildren: Nathan Brunskill, Monica (Dave) Easterday, Chris (Carey) Fernandes, Leslie (Karl) Pearson, Brent (Lizzie) Volk, Drew (Ashleigh) Volk and Reid (Caitlin) Volk. She also leaves behind eleven great-grandchildren: Avianna Easterday, Alex and Fiona Fernandes, Geddy and Lola Pearson, Katie and Ellie Volk, Olivia and Dominic Volk, and Cora and Everly Volk.
Irene was always a positive influence; seeing the goodness in people and making the best of every situation. Her words of wisdom, “Will this still matter in 5 years?” serves to remind us that most of life’s problems are temporary. She was a grateful person who always saw the beauty in our world.
A private interment will be held at Turlock Memorial Park. In honor of Irene, memorial contributions can be made to the “Little Lights” preschool in care of First United Methodist Church of Turlock, 1660 Arbor Way.