Irene Roark went to sleep and woke up in the arms of Jesus on Saturday, May 20, 2023.
Irene Sadie Fern Leedholm Roark was born on April 17, 1927 to Scandinavian parents, Adolf and Lilly Leedholm. Irene grew up on a homesteaded grain farm near Lougheed, Alberta Canada. Her childhood passions included learning (she insisted on going to school a year early), her family, ice skating on the farm pond, school programs that included gymnastics, and riding her horse, Croppy, with her best friend, Betty Swainson. Mom’s love for music took her to live with her aunt in the big city, where she took piano lessons at the age of 9. However, this only lasted a year. She came back home and eventually graduated from the eighth grade.Soon she decided to move to Calgary, the city where her older sister, Evelyn, lived. Here is where she fell in love with Jesus, earned money to go to college, and waitressed at The Copper Kettle Diner. Finally, at the age of twenty, Irene got her passport to move to Nampa, Idaho. Working at a Dairy Queen, she graduated as a registered nurse with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Northwest Nazarene College in 1954. This schooling gave her the opportunity to supervise in the operating room (her favorite job), serve as a public health nurse, and to finally teach surgical nursing to 4th year nursing students at Yakima Valley College in 1972. Many nursing students throughout the years would see her around Yakima and make sure she knew how much they appreciated her. On a summer night in 1953, Mom went on a blind date with a handsome young man named James Roark. It was love from the start. Nine months later they were married at Nampa First Nazarene Church. Mom then started her adventure of married life with Dad taking a honeymoon trip by train to pick up their new black Oldsmobile from the factory in Detroit, Michigan. Two and a half years later, they had their first daughter, Sherri. They had their second daughter, Heidi, 3 and a half years later. Mom displayed her gift of mercy when their pastor encouraged them to adopt a cute 2 ½ year old boy who needed a home. This little boy, Rick, completed their family.
Later, Irene and Jim enjoyed the wonder of grandparenting Heid's wonderful children, Justin and Lauren. This love took them to Redmond, Washington for many birthdays, soccer games, gymnastics meets, plays, and holidays. Irene’s love of family and Jesus were her two greatest passions. When it was in her power, she did whatever she could to love and serve. Her family enjoyed delicious home-cooked meals, yummy cookies and desserts, heartfelt gifts, many picnics, and lots of hugs and kisses. Irene also created nutritious and delicious meals for Jim after he was diagnosed with diabetes. This included keeping a stash of her own sugar-free peanut butter cookies for his snacks. Irene lost her husband of 58 years to heart failure in September of 2012.
Irene also loved on all the family animals brought into her home including many Siamese cats, numerous goldfish, one turtle, and one precious poodle named Spoofy. After her kids moved away, she and Jim loved on three more dogs: Alfie, Benji, and Koko – her last Shitzu. Irene came to live with her daughter, Sherri, and her husband, Darrell, after Koko passed away in 2015.
Irene lived with Sherri and her husband, Darrell, until July of 2018, when she fell and broke her hip. From the hospital, she spent three weeks in orthopedic care, and then she moved into the lovely Morning Star of Englefield Green (now Cornerstone Senior Living. She and her family cherished the care she received from so many loving hearts.
Irene is survived by her daughter, Sherri (Darrell) Bowman, her son, Rich (Cathy) Roark, her daughter, Heidi Adkins, her grandson, Justin (Janice) Adkins, her granddaughter, Lauren (Andrew) Adkins Salmon, her great grandson, Teddy Adkins, her great granddaughters, Penny and Addie, and her brother, Art (Vera-Marie) Leedholm.
A celebration of life will be held at Cole Community Church on Monday, June 5th, 2023 at 11:00a.m. This will be followed by a yummy luncheon at the church.
In lieu of flowers, the family is accepting funds for an NNU nursing scholarship in her name. Donations to the American Alzheimer's Association are also encouraged.