Born June 26, 1940, in Fairbanks, Territory of Alaska, to Fortuna Mary and James Bertrum Hansen, her first home was in Big Delta at Bert and Mary’s Roadhouse on the bank of the Tanana River. She remained in the Delta area all her life.
Irene loved all things Alaskan and outdoors, no matter the season. She loved horseback riding, gardening, snow machining, ATV riding, riverboating, fishing and hunting. And she was a “crack shot” with a rifle. When she was a child, she outshot the local military troops during recreational target practice sessions.
She was an amazingly loving, strong, busy and independent woman. She worked physically hard all her life, even in “retirement” these past few years. Her passion was history. She was a historian in every right, and by nature, and knew and documented much local history, while also fascinated with state history.
In the 1970s, she recognized Rika’s Roadhouse was at risk of being forever lost. She formed the Delta Historical Society with some of her coworkers and friends and began the task of working to get Rika’s Roadhouse listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and to restore the roadhouse and adjacent buildings. She participated in the restoration process, serving as historical consultant during that time. She volunteered countless hours there, usually seven days per week in the summers, and did that until she became ill in July.
When the Sullivan Roadhouse was moved into downtown Delta Junction, she provided assistance with historical information and with items displayed there.She worked at the Delta Junction School for more than thirty years, giving much love and attention to students and staff. She also worked at Delta Camp during the construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.
She loved family visits, and insisted on preparing family meals during those times. She liked to read for relaxation, usually historical books or magazines. She loved small animals, and always had cats around.
She was a member of the Delta Historical Society and the Pioneers of Alaska.
She was preceded in death by her parents, and sister Victoria Felts. She is survived by her sons, Loyde Hansen and Lyle Mead, four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
The family would like to thank all who helped and visited, Irene during her final journey, including Providence Hospital Staff, Alaska Regional Hospital Staff, and Prestige Care and Rehabilitation Center Staff.
Her memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at the Clearwater Baptist Church, officiated by Pastor Glen Cotton. All are invited to the service. She will be interred at Rest Haven Cemetery, in the Pioneers of Alaska section, following the service. Arrangements are by Janssen’s Evergreen Memorial Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, the family wishes that you would consider Irene’s favorite charity, Alaska Crippled Children’s Association.