Irene Rose Singer

March 12, 1938January 8, 2021
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Irene Rose Singer was born on March 12, 1938 in Manuelito, New Mexico. She died peacefully in hospice care at the residence of her daughter Michelle in Portland, Oregon on January 8, 2021 surrounded by loved ones. She was a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, relative and friend.

Irene is survived by her two daughters [Marcie (Josh) and Michelle], grandchildren [Cody (Suzy), Elijah (Maria), Jaliene (Chalen), Shaelee], great-grandchildren (Sam, Sophia, Celeste), daughter in-law (Carolyn) and many relatives. She is preceded in death by her husband (Samuel), two sons (Morales and Michael), parents (John and Maggie Billy), and siblings (stillborn Sister, John Scott Billy, Mary Billy, Tully Billy, John Begay, John Kenneth Billy).

Ten years ago in 2011, her youngest son and beloved husband of 51 years both passed within a 3 ½ month span. In 2021, her surviving son Michael had an unexpected, sudden death two days prior to her transition. There is no doubt that a powerful bond exists between a parent and a child. The two sets are reunited with their Heavenly Father and loved ones.

Irene was a full-blooded Navajo enrolled citizen of the Navajo Nation. She was from the To’dichii’nii’ (Bitter Water) Clan born for the Táchii'nii (Red Running into the Water) Clan. Her maternal grandmother and mother called her by her Navajo name which translates to “Warrior Woman with Shield” as she was strong, fearless and resilient in character and in life. She attended Chemawa Indian School in the 1950s where she met the love of her life, Sam, and then worked at Chemawa in home living and food service capacities. She retired from Federal Service after a lengthy career. Irene was a longtime resident of Salem and a member of Calvary Baptist Church for 60 years where she was baptized, married and raised four children with her husband.

Irene was very proud to be Native and was deeply rooted in her cultural heritage. She spoke the Navajo language, her first language, fluently on a daily basis with her husband, Sam, and amongst fellow Navajo speakers. She always wanted to be amongst and to celebrate with the Native community whenever and wherever she could all of her life as cultural connection was her Warrior Woman shield.

She was a grandmother and with her husband supported her son Morales and his three children while he was a stay-at-home parent and caregiver to them. When Morales was tragically killed, she and Sam became guardians of his children in order to keep the cultural value of family-centered, alive. Sam’s passing left her a widow, never abandoning her infinite love for her children, grandchildren and in the last three years, great-grandchildren. To her family, she is known as “Shima” (My Mom in Navajo) and the matriarch. In the last few years and in her last days, she was “Warrior Woman with Shield” -- fighting to live – but she lives on in spirit with her legacy through the next generations. She emphasized the Navajo teaching of remembering where you come from, its importance in life and to value connections in life as gifts. She led by that example every day. Today, she lives on in those who were blessed to have met her.

To honor her, a public viewing and live stream will be held Saturday, January 16, 2021 at 12 p.m. to 4 pm at Howell-Edwards-Doerksen Funeral Home in Salem, Oregon. Visit Irene’s Dignity Memorial website to offer condolences and memories for the family and to join live stream.

A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date at Calvary Baptist Church.


  • Visitation

    Saturday, January 16, 2021



Irene Rose Singer

have a memory or condolence to add?

Renee Reynolds

January 21, 2021

Ireane was a very sweet lady. I remember when it was hot and sunny outside I would take her out and she would love it. We would sit there and she would tell me stories about her family. I will miss her. God Bless you my dear ❤️

Michelle Singer

January 17, 2021

My mom and dad were married 51 years. Here are some items to cherish the love.

Michelle Singer

January 17, 2021

My mom’s little things in life she enjoyed - a work out, music and sports!

Michelle Singer

January 17, 2021

Irene Singer’s Chemawa Indian School memorabilia.

Avis Singer

January 16, 2021

My fondest memory of aunt Irene, she was such a huge wrestling enthusiast. Once the show began her eyes would be sparkling and she would be yelling at the wrestlers. Once I asked her why? She simply gave me that WTH look and said “that’s my show!” At that Marcus says, She’s (Avis) is lying she’s a huge John Cena fan!
Irene, didn’t pass up the opportunity to do the John Cena signature move.
I laughed at that.
I also remember she was a huge Trump (NOT)!!!! That was one man that made her blood boil. Only time I’ve ever heard my elder cuss.
It was good knowing Auntie Irene Singer. God bless and Rest In Peace.

Michael Singer was the life of the party. My earliest memory was him taking us out to swim. I had never worn a swimsuit and my parents got me one in Oregon, just so I could go to the lake with my cousins.
I was scared having never been swimming before. I took my clothes off and was ready to swim and Mike said, “whoa your whiter than me!” My self conscious self was like what? This young Navajo didn’t know she was not tanned.
Next we try to learn to float I think we drank more water that day, cuz I was car sick by the time we got back to Uncle Sam’s place.
While we shower and clean up ourselves he and Rales grilled up a storm and I had my first taste of teriyaki marinated chicken. My first introduction of food spices. Puff was the tour guide and Shelly had her carrot top BF.
At our last meeting he said of Katelynn, hey is that Roach??” I had forgotten all about that nickname for Katelynn’s momma (Rachel).
By the way we had a cookout at Irene’s apartment.
Till we meet again Mike and Rest In Peace.

Laura White

January 16, 2021

2020 Salem, OR

I am so glad I was able to visit with Irene more this past year. This particular visit involved an Oregon Ducks Women’s Basketball game, marionberry pie, and like always, lots of love and laughter.

Forty years of memories is hard to sum up, but I will forever remember Irene, Grandma Dear, and her memory will always bring a smile to me.

Much love to the whole family,
Laura, Chris and Lyla

Laura White

January 16, 2021

Eugene, Oregon
Wedding Shower
This was such a fun time—I wish I had more pictures. Sam and Irene were like peas and carrots—so glad they are together again. ♥️ (And Michelle was the the best maid of honor ever!!!)

Shauna Hohenstein

January 16, 2021

Thank you for your deep wisdom. Thank you for extending that deep wisdom and love to my son and I, as if we were one of your own.

Thank you for teaching me to cook, to honor my husband and family, and for your strength in standing in truth when it was too hard for many of us to admit.

Shima, you were the strongest woman I have ever known and you will always be honored in my heart.

háá nilyį́į́h

Bryan Mercier

January 16, 2021

My family and I will miss Irene "Shima" Singer often. When we are at the Grand Ronde Pow Wow, we'll look over at the Elder seating and expect to see a crafty Navajo smile. When we drive through Salem, we'll instinctively want to stop by for a visit. When we're in ABQ, we'll want to check if she's in town. We'll mostly miss her the authenticity and fondness she showed us. She always made us feel like we were the center of the universe. We love Shima and will miss her often.

Michelle Osborne

January 15, 2021

Happy memories from the 2012 wedding of Nichole and Edward held in Parkdale, Oregon. Your mom was an absolute doll. Much love to the Singer clan during this time of tremendous changes. Much love and respect, Michelle/ Hum me hum me sh (Turtle Dove)