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Life Story / Obituary
As a woman who found joy in the simple things, Irene Morehouse foremost loved her family. A hard working woman her whole life through, she delighted in things like feeding the birds and working in her garden, but her greatest accomplishment was raising her three wonderful children whom she loved deeply. Although she was never a world traveler, Irene easily found peace and contentment in the comforts of home. Well loved and missed, she will be fondly remembered.
The daughter of Stanley and Bessie (Coad) Stephens, Irene Mae was born on June 30, 1927 in the lakeshore town of Muskegon, Michigan. A time of prosperity, the days were brimming with excitement as “Strike Up the Band” and “Old Man River” played on the radio and news of the day was the heroes welcome given to Charles Lindbergh following his historic transatlantic flight. With prohibition in full swing, the flapper redefined womanhood and gay times filled the air. Everyday life in Muskegon was pretty simple for the Stephens household where fun-filled summer days were spent at the beach or enjoying a picnic or two.
Irene grew up with her older brother, Stanley and younger brother, Gerald in their Muskegon Heights area home. Her father worked at Teledyne Continental Motors in Muskegon. Young Irene experienced an enjoyable childhood for the times, even as the bleak days of the Great Depression cast a shadow of hardship among all. Having attended the local schools, Irene completed her education at Muskegon Heights High School through the 11th grade before working at various jobs throughout Muskegon.
In time Irene landed a position at Muskegon Piston Ring. Needing the steady work, it was a good paying job and things were really looking up for her. However, she never could have imagined what was in store when she began working at the foundry. Through her work, Irene met a fellow co-worker named Lewis Morehouse with whom she would fall deeply in love. The pair hit it off right from the start and after dating for a time, shared vows of marriage on June 28, 1947, just two days shy of Irene’s 20th birthday.
The young couple settled into their first and only house located on Division Avenue, and it was the place that Irene would come to call home for the rest of her days. In 1948 they welcomed the birth of their daughter, Patricia, and four years later in 1952 their son Gerald completed their family, or so they thought. Their daughter Barb was a most welcome surprise in 1964, and together they raised their family in a home filled with the love of family, traditions and memorable holidays. Irene was a hard working mother and made a wonderful home for Lewis and their children.
While Irene’s husband continued on at Muskegon Piston Ring, Irene took excellent care of her family as a homemaker and worked as a clerk at Gov’s Market, formerly on the corner of Summit and Henry Streets. She remained there for many years, and her daughter Barb even recalls memories of visiting Irene’s work family there and intently watching the butcher as he cut up the different grades of meat.
When it came to cooking, Irene won the hearts of friends and family with her skill in the kitchen. She was a wonderful cook and was known for her good solid meals and delicious comfort food. Her scalloped potatoes were the best, along with her pulled pork which always made for great sandwiches. She made the most scrumptious English pasties, and birthdays were always celebrated with her famous red cake. As a family they enjoyed great times traveling to the Upper Peninsula or Canada. Lewis often went fishing while Irene and the children relaxed and took in all the area had to offer. When it came to socializing, Irene and Lewis occasionally went to the Muskegon Eagles where they held membership.
In 1979 Lewis sadly died, leaving Irene to raise their daughter Barb, still a teenager, on her own. She never had a driver’s license, and with the loss of Lewis, she was also left without transportation. Although Irene easily took care of herself and Barb, she ventured out and acquired a license to drive for the first time in her life. Ironically, she ended up taking the driver’s training course right alongside her daughter! In time she began working at Captain Hook’s fish market, remaining there until her eventual retirement in 1993.
While living on Division Avenue, Irene became close friends with Joann Settle, a neighbor who lived just a few houses away. Throughout the years Irene and Joann spent much time together talking and playing cards, even having an occasional beer. They always went to the farmers market together and went grocery shopping early every other Saturday to avoid the crowds. One of the greatest things that brought Irene joy and contentment was her love for the outdoors where she could often be found working in her garden. She always had birdfeeders in the backyard for her feathered friends, and mowed her own lawn until she was 80 years old.
Through the years Irene made a few trips to Tulsa, Oklahoma to visit her son, but she really just preferred the comforts of home. Eight years ago she acquired a cat named Socks who became her good friend and dear companion. Socks proved to be a welcome comfort to Irene, especially after experiencing the death of her son, Gerald in 2001. When her daughter, Patricia died in 2008, the two deaths were very hard on Irene, but the love and support from family and friends sustained her through these difficult times.
Several years ago Irene’s daughter Barb and son-in-law moved in with her shortly after she suffered a stroke. As her body continued to grow weaker, they helped with many of the household chores, but Irene insisted on making each of her family’s favorite dishes for the holidays. Unfortunately, Irene was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, and on Sunday, January 2, 2011, she sadly died at the age of 83 in the comfort of her home.
Irene Mae Morehouse found joy in the simple things. Foremost, she loved her family, and worked hard to make a good home for them. She delighted in times shared in the company of a good friend, spending time in her garden, and cooking wonderful meals for those she loved. She will indeed be missed, but her love lives on through the memories she leaves behind.
SURVIVORS: Daughter, Barb (Scott) Hellman; brother, Stanley (Ann) Stephens; granddaughter, Renee (Rob Kladja) Hall; good friend, Joann Settle, all of Muskegon. Along with her parents, husband Lewis, son Gerald Morehouse and daughter, Patricia Hall, Irene was also preceded in death by her son-in-law, Arthur Hall Jr. and brother, Gerald Stephens. SERVICE: Wednesday, January 5, 2011, 12:00 Noon at the Clock Chapel with Rev. Robert Ferry officiating. Interment at Oakwood Cemetery. VISITATION: Wednesday, one hour prior to the service at Clock Funeral Home.
MEMORIAL: Harbor Hospice. Please visit www.clockfuneralhome.com to leave a favorite memory or photo of Irene and to sign her online guest book.