Irene Struxness Sawatzky – West Central Tribune

Irene Struxness Ulvilden Sawatzky, born September 26, 1924 to Julia and Edward Struxness in Nome, ND, died June 6, 2022 in Peoria, IL. Irene grew up in Belgrade, MN, graduating from Belgrade HS in 1942. In 1946, she earned a BA in English and Music from Luther College in Decorah, IA. Irene married James A. Ulvilden in July 1946, after his discharge from the Navy. She taught in Spring Grove, MN and together they taught in Westby, WI until returning to college in Brookings, SD. Irene and Jim moved to Russell, MN in 1953, where Irene taught English and music until her retirement in 1973. Irene sang and led choirs, was president of her congregation, served on the school board and worked with Jim at the State Farmers Bank of Russell. She became vice president and oversaw bank operations after Jim’s death in October 1979. In September 1980, Irene married Martin E. Sawatzky. They split their time between Mesa, AZ and Russell, MN. Survivors include daughters, Jennifer (John) Gregg, Peoria, IL and Deborah (Tony) Anderson, SeaTac, WA and their children. Stepsons Doug (Mary) Sawatzky, Willmar, MN and Mike (Karen) Sawatzky, Slayton, MN and their children. Irene was predeceased by her parents, five brothers and five sisters.

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