Irene D. Ginger, a 61-year resident of Park Ridge, died Tuesday, April 16 at The Summit in Park Ridge.
Beloved wife of Roger, loving mother of Andy (Jo Ann), Paul (Joanne), Clare, Amy (Lenny) Johncola and Mark. Cherished grandmother of Jacob (Christie), Jeffrey, Kristin (Sean), Emily, Elaine (Bertrand), Luke, Anya and great-grandmother of Rowan and Gabriel. She was preceded in death by her sister, Stephanie and her son, Mark.
Born in Chicago in 1927, the daughter of parents who emigrated from Poland, Irene attended Holy Family Academy and graduated at the head of her class. She went to the University of Chicago, where she earned a PhB degree and an MS in food chemistry[CG1] .
She was active in the Calvert Club on campus and met her husband Roger there. As students, they often visited Childerley retreat house in Wheeling, eventually participating in the oversight of the retreat center until its closure in 1976. Roger and Irene married in 1953 and settled in Park Ridge in 1957.
While raising 5 children who attended St. Paul of the Cross, Irene organized Junior Great Books, served on the school board, taught as a substitute teacher and tutor, chaperoned school and Girl Scout activities, and organized the first parish blood drive.
She was active in the Park Ridge Audubon Society, serving in leadership positions and editing its newsletter for over 30 years. In the 1960’s she became membership chairperson for Community Concerts of Maine Township, a role she served in for decades.
In the 1980s, Irene began attending adult education programs at the Park Ridge Community Church. She soon joined the church and the adult education subcommittee, which she co-chaired and chaired for many years. She was dedicated to providing intellectually challenging programs and discussions about varied faith traditions, interfaith and ecumenical themes, and their relevance to current affairs. She also played in the Silver Bells and participated in other groups in the church.
Professionally, Irene conducted biochemical research at the American Meat Institute Foundation in the 1950s. For 21 years, she wrote abstracts for Chemical Abstracts. From 1976-1985 she conducted medical legal research in Chicago. She then earned a certificate in technical and professional communications from IIT and worked at the IIT Research Institute as a technical editor for a short time. She then joined Argonne National Laboratory as a technical editor, where she worked until 2009.
Irene was an avid flower gardener and enjoyed photography. She was a swimmer, hiker and camper who played flute, piano and recorder. She traveled the world and presented nature-based programs to public groups based on the places she visited. Also an avid reader, she participated in two book groups, one for fiction, and one for nonfiction. A member of the Embroiderer’s Guild of America and the Craft Club at Argonne, she stitched numerous needlework creations over the years, many of her own design. For 37 years, she sent friends and family handmade Christmas cards containing beautiful needlework ornaments.
Irene inspired family, friends and community to pursue their passions and make the world a better place. We are extremely grateful for your extraordinary life.
The family thanks the Care In The Home, Rainbow Hospice and Summit staffs for their compassionate care.
Memorial gifts may be made to The Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy or Calvert House Chicago
Visitation Wednesday, April 24, from 8:30-9:30 a.m. at Ryan-Parke Funeral Home. Funeral Mass will follow, 10 a.m., at St. Paul of the Cross Church, 140 S. Northwest Hwy., Park Ridge. Interment St. Adalbert Cemetery. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 11 am on Saturday, April 27, at Park Ridge Community Church, 100 S. Courtland Avenue, Park Ridge.