Irene Caroline James
July 23, 1931 – February 7, 2020
Irene Caroline James passed away Friday February 7th, 2020 in Portland Oregon at the age of 88. She was born July 23, 1931 to Paul and Lillian (Kuenzi) Staedeli in Silverton Oregon. She grew up on the farm where she was born, and was the oldest sister to Earl, Hazel, Lavonne, Janice and Joyce. Throughout the years we heard various stories of her growing up on the farm. One such story comes to mind – her dad was outside on the tractor and the kids were milling about, which was frustrating him, so he called “Lillian can you come and get these kids”. She went to school at Willard School, a 1 room schoolhouse. So not only did she share this schoolhouse with her siblings, but also with her various cousins, of which there were many. Oh yes, there were few other kids that were not related. The area she grew up in was known as the “Dutch Flat” and attended church at the German Apostolic Christian Church. She had a very large extended family who attended the church there as well, and also had farms around this same area. As was custom in those days, the kids from the “Dutch Flat” church did not go to school beyond the 8th grade, that is until Irene came along. A story she shared with us is when she was in the 8th grade some people from the school district came to the 1 room schoolhouse to sign up kids for high school. So Irene did just that, and announced to her parents when she arrived home what she had done. She attended and graduated from Salem High School. Oh, it took a while for the rest of the kids from the Dutch Flat to follow suit, and I’m sure it caused quite the raucous at the church. Irene was a maverick of her time.
At the age of 18 she left the farm life and moved to Portland Oregon where she lived for a short time with her Aunt, Uncle and cousin. It was during this time she became a LPN and worked at the County Hospital up on the hill. The VA hospital is now in this spot, across from OHSU. This is where she met her future husband, Grant, who worked for Buck Ambulance. He called her “Sta-deli, because he didn’t know her last name was pronounced “Stad lee”. They were married November 6, 1954 in Vancouver Washington and had a dinner reception at the farm house in Silverton. During this marriage they became the parents to Donna, Kathy, Annette and Thomas. She worked part of this time as an LPN but eventually become a full time “stay at home” mom. During the parenting years she was busy sewing clothes for her kids, attending PTA meetings and also served as a precinct committee person for our Republican district. She served the Lord faithfully, involving herself in women’s ministries at the various churches she attended throughout the years, NE Assembly of God, Portland Foursquare and Hinson Memorial Baptist. For a short time she also attended Neighborhood Assembly of God Church. After the kids became older she went back to work full time at Sears, where she worked until her retirement in 1996. In 1978 Grant passed away, and she remained a widow for the remainder of her lifetime.
Her family continued to grow as grandchildren made their entrances. When the great grands started arriving her name changed from Grandma James to just plain Granny. Then a couple of those great grands became parents, which made her a great-great grandmother of 2 very cute little girls.
After her retirement from Sears you could find her working on one of her many sewing projects, tending her beautiful garden, or taking baked treats to the many people she visited who could no longer get out. She always busied herself with her many grandchildren – having them on sleep overs or taking them on out of town trips. Holiday family dinners were always at her home until the numbers outgrew the space. You might catch her watching a granddaughter learning to ice skate, or watching many a football game or wrestling match, sitting as a group at many children’s parades – and one day seeing both a grandson and granddaughter march in those parades, or a grandson walking the parade route as a police cadet and then later on watching proudly as the same grandson was sworn in as a Portland police officer. Yes her life was full and we could go on and on.
To sum it up, Irene loved the Lord. She was proud of her Swiss heritage. She was strong willed and independent. She leaves behind a huge family which also includes her sisters, Hazel, Janice and Joyce, their husbands, many nieces, nephews and cousins that stretch across the entire United States and Switzerland. Her life was full and well lived.
- Funeral Service Thursday, February 13, 2020
- Reception Thursday, February 13, 2020
IN THE CARE OF