Irene Peterson Rich, of Wilmington, was born on Oct. 14, 1918, and had the unique honor of passing from this life on that same day, Oct. 14, 2015, at the age of 97.
Her parents were William Wright and Gertrude Melvin Peterson, of Atkinson.
She leaves behind her children, Phylliss Rich Reynolds and Nancy Rich Merrill; grandchildren, Kelly James, Amy Kampschroeder, Jamie Buis, Sonya Jordon, Jason Buis, Brent Allen and Andy Allen; and great-grandchildren, Jacob and Abbie Kampschroeder, Anna and Brady James and Evan Monzingo.
She was preceded in death by her youngest daughter, Betty Rich Allen; brother, William Wright “Pete” Peterson; and sister, Annie Laurie Croom.
Irene was a member of Riley’s Creek Baptist Church in Pender County from 1940 to 1964. She was a Sunday school teacher, active in the Women’s Missionary Union and served as a pianist. Irene later joined Calvary Baptist Church, where she enjoyed performing in the touring choir.
Irene was active in Pender County from 1957 to 1960 by serving on various committees for the Pender County Fair and on the board of directors. She was an honorary member of the Agricultural Worker’s Council of Pender County in 1957 and assisted in fund drives for the Pender County Red Cross, cancer and polio organizations. She won statewide honors and was named Woman of the Year in 1957 for the Pender County Home Demonstration Club.
In 1956, Irene was appointed as chairman of Pender County’s SENCL and Development Association and traveled over 400 miles in helping with this program. She was employed at Harrell’s Music Store and then purchased the business, renaming it Rich’s Music Store. Irene was a member of the American Business Women’s Association from 1968 to 1998 and was awarded a 30-year pin for her participation and service. A favorite activity for her was ballroom dancing, for which she won honors.
The family wishes to offer a special thanks to Cypress Pointe Rehabilitation and Healthcare facility for their compassion and professional care for Irene and to her former neighbors, Bob and Lynn Houston, for their friendship and help. We are also especially grateful for the devoted friendship of Evelyn Brown.
Graveside services will be held at Oleander Memorial Gardens for family members.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to breast cancer research.
Please leave online condolences for the family at Coble Ward-Smith Funeral & Cremation Service.
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