Mrs. F. Irene Evans of Fullerton, died peacefully in her sleep on April 27, 2017.
She had a very full and accomplished life of service to her family and community. She is survived by her four children: Louise Armstrong, Robert Armstrong (Teresa), Tom Armstrong (Anita) and Laura Tamir (Dahn); 6 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. She also has many loved nieces and nephews.
The youngest of 6 children of Thomas and Bessie Evans, she was born in 1926 in rural Louisiana in an "unpainted house" at the height of the depression. Her mother died when she was only 4; she and her beloved sister Audrey ran the house for their dad. She graduated at the top of her high school class but couldn't afford university even with scholarships.
With her brother Clyde's encouragement, she moved to Houston and attended American Business College. At 17, she was let go from her first job as a lady elevator operator because she was underage. She quickly became an executive secretary for Parkersburg Rig and Reel Company.
She met Capt. Ray Armstrong (later Lt. Col.) in 1943 and they married in Washington DC when he returned home from WWII. They settled in Hammond, Indiana and began raising a family: first daughter Louise and then son Robert. Ray was recalled to service for the Korean War; afterward the family moved to California where Ray had an opportunity to work for Fluor Corp.
There was a severe housing shortage in California following both wars so they ended up buying land in Orange County and building a home for their family with their own labor. By the time the house was finished their son Thomas had arrived. In 1968, their daughter Laura was born.
Irene was an active parent: chauffeur to dance and music classes, sports events, church activities, chaperone and worker. An advocate of great public education, she ended up being on nearly every possible committee of PTA in Fullerton. Her organizational gifts led to President of the Fullerton Council of PTAs, Fullerton Elementary School District Master Plan Steering Committee, Chair of the Fullerton Elementary School District Personnel Commission. In 1977, she was elected to the Fullerton Elementary School Board, serving at various times as the Chair, and serving on the Board until 1989.
She was a member of the First Baptist Church (now Wilshire Avenue Community Church); she was their wedding committee coordinator for 20 years, literally organizing hundreds of weddings. She volunteered for Girl Scouts, the Needlework Guild, the Mother Goose Guild, Little League, Friends of the Fullerton Library, National Charity League, and Assistance League of Fullerton, among others. The family home was filled with plaques and awards commemorating all of her volunteerism.
She sewed most of Louise's clothes and often burned the midnight oil typing on an old Underwood manual typewriter the term papers and projects of Ray and her children. She and Ray were avid fans of high school basketball, attending Sunny Hills High School games for years after their children had graduated.
Ray's work as an engineer in oil and chemical refining took the two of them all over the world: Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. They also vacationed by car throughout the United States each year with the kiddies in tow. Late in life, Irene took her sister Audrey on road trips too. She also helped to raise her granddaughter Christine. She was caregiver for Ray when he became ill.
A funeral service to celebrate this good citizen, wife and mother is planned for 9:00 am on May 6, 2017 at McAulay and Wallace Funeral Home, 902 N. Harbor Blvd, Fullerton. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Alzheimers Association of Orange County or the Assistance League of Fullerton.
Published in Orange County Register on May 2, 2017.