Irene Mary Walsh
October 5, 1925 – April 27, 2021
Irene Pearl Walsh, 95, passed away peacefully in her Almaden Valley home of 58 years surrounded by her family and loyal Italian Greyhound, Phoebe, at her side.
Born in Bolton, England, Irene finished her schooling and was just 17 years old when she served in the British Women’s Land Army, tending to the crops and livestock during World Word II.
Irene emigrated to the United States to marry James P. Walsh, her husband of 60 years, who preceded her in death in 2009.
Irene first came to the U.S. in 1946, on a visit to an aunt in Delaware as part of her 21st-birthday celebration. She met Jim thru family connections and after Jim’s father told him he’d “be a damn fool if he didn’t ask that girl out”, a courtship soon followed.
Irene returned to England, working as an accomplished tailor. She subsequently exhibited her strong will by making the decision to leave her family and home country behind, returning for Jim’s 1948 college graduation and the announcement of their engagement. They were married in 1949 and in March of 1955 Irene was proud to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
As Jim established his chemical-engineering career, he and Irene started their family and eventually relocated to San Jose with IBM in 1962.
Over the years, Irene and Jim built the family life they treasured with their three children. They enjoyed a vibrant social circle through the British-American Club and established their spiritual grounding as congregants in the Holy Spirit Catholic parish. Irene and Jim arranged annual family vacations in Pismo Beach which is where they made many fond lifelong memories.
As a “stay-at-home mom” Irene volunteered as a “Room Mom”, PTA member and Girl Scout leader, reflecting her passion to ensure the development and well-being of children.
In her later years, Irene displayed her excellent handywork making Teddy Bears, ceramic dolls and quilts – which were donated to needy mothers thru the Holy Spirit layette group.
Irene – affectionately known in the family as “Mama Rene” – inherited the “gambling bug” from her dear dad in northern England and was known to enjoy the slots in Vegas, a trip or two to the racetrack and was hopeful till the very end that she’d hit the California Lottery!
Irene will be dearly missed, including by the many thoughtful caregivers who provided a watchful eye over her so she could finish her days in her own home, just as she and Jim had wished.
Irene is survived by her son, Michael Walsh (Kristina Allender), and two daughters, Patricia Divis (Paul) and Kathleen Robb (Tim); 5 grandchildren, Shannon Rose (David), Erin Ehrhardt (John), Kyle Robb, Anna Divis and James Divis; and 3 great-grandsons, Jack Ehrhardt, Max Ehrhardt and Benjamin Rose. Irene was preceded in death by her sisters Winifred of Vincentia, Australia and Edith, of Amersham, England.
Donations in Irene’s memory can be sent to the Italian Greyhound Rescue Foundation, P.O. Box 24945, San Jose, CA 95154