Irene Edna Blum was born May 1, 1927, to William B. and Pearl (Caswell) Sossaman in Greenwood, Mississippi. Irene was the second oldest of five children when her mother passed away when Irene was only five years old. Irene accepted the hard life as the daughter of a sharecropper and helped raise herself and her siblings. Irene was unable to finish high school and moved to Minneapolis to make her own way in the world when she was only sixteen. There she met Harold Blum. They were married on December 24, 1950, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. They lived in Detroit, Michigan, where they were blessed with four children. Harold and Irene moved their family to an acreage near Parkersburg, Iowa, in 1967, where they raised their children and taught them the values of hard work, animal husbandry, and gardening. Irene often told her children "if you don't grow it, you can't eat it".
Irene's life changed drastically when her beloved Harold passed away on August 1, 1978. She sold the acreage and moved to Cedar Falls, where she worked in food service at the University of Northern Iowa for over twenty years. At UNI, the students became her family as she strove to memorize all their names. She developed strong and lasting relationships with her students that lasted even after her retirement in 2001.
Irene suffered from dementia, Alzheimer's, and failing health. She moved to The Waterford Assisted Living in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 2007. There she became friends with the residents and staff and received excellent care. Irene passed away at 9:12 PM on December 23, 2009, from complications of pneumonia and influenza B. She was just in time to celebrate her fifty-ninth wedding anniversary with Harold.
Irene is preceded in death by: her parents; her husband, Harold Blum; her daughter, Carol (Blum) Janssen; her great-granddaughter, Hope Ohrt; and her sister, Marie Horton.
Irene leaves behind: her son, John Blum of Waterloo, Iowa; her daughter, Grace (Blum) Robinson of Lincoln, Nebraska; her son, William Blum of The Colony, Texas; her sister, Marjorie Calhoun of Elaine, Arkansas, her brother, Robert Sossaman of Memphis, Tennessee; her sister, Amanda Rocek of Minneapolis, Minnesota; eleven grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be held Tuesday, December 29, 2009, from 4-8 PM and Wednesday, December 30, 2009, at 9:30 AM with services at 10:30 AM at the DahlVan Hove-Schoof Funeral Home, 1825 West 12th Street, Cedar Falls, IA 50613-1699 with burial at the Greenwood Cemetery.
Copyright Waterloo Courier, December 27, 2009, page B7.