Irene Viola (Yahnke) Gries, 96, of Sigourney, died Monday, Jan. 25, 2010, at the Keokuk County Health Center. She was born Dec. 29, 1913, at the family farm two miles west of Sigourney, the daughter of George and Minnie (McClenahan) Yahnke. Minnie died four days after giving birth, and Irene was raised by her paternal grandmother; by her oldest sister, Alta Hale of Sigourney; and on the farm by her father. Irene graduated from Sigourney High School with the class of 1932 and taught school for a short time before marrying Ed Gries of Sigourney on April 11, 1934.
Enduring the drought, insects and the hardships of the Depression years, they took over her father’s farm upon his death in 1938. They expanded it for the next 35 years, retiring in 1974 and moving to North Shuffleton Street in Sigourney. Irene was known by her grandchildren for her apple pie, noodles and potato salad, and there was never a family gathering which did not end with numerous games of pinochle. She enjoyed mystery novels and was a charter member of the Scattergood Club. She was particularly proud to have used her riding lawn mower to maintain her large lawn until last year.
Along the way, she and her husband raised five children, all of whom survive Irene: Dolores Thomason of Perry; Charles of Yuma, Ariz.; Karen of Clive; Mary Gregg (Dan) of Coralville; and James of Sigourney. She is also survived by eight grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. She was preceded in death by her husband, Ed, in 1984; two grandchildren, David Gries and Susan Thomason-Ruiz; two sisters, Mabel Wolfe and Alta Hale; and a brother, Floyd Yahnke.
Funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Sigourney, with Father Charles Fladung officiating. Burial will be in St. Mary Cemetery in Sigourney. Visitation will be from 3-7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010, at Powell Funeral Home in Sigourney. The family appreciates greatly the tender care given Irene in her final days by Keokuk County Hospice and the Keokuk County Health Center, and urges memorials be given to these organizations. Powell Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Sigourney is caring for Irene and her family. Condolences may be e-mailed at www.powellfuneralhomes.com under obituaries.