Irene Lang, 66, of Baker City, died Dec. 16, 2007, at St. Elizabeth Health Care Center.
She was born on Aug. 8, 1941, at Union City, Pa., to Audrey Estella Shelton and Harvey Woolstrum. She was raised at Prescott, Ariz.
As a child, Irene loved riding horses. She was a talented watercolor and mural painter. Humorous childhood family memories, her love of animals and of life itself were captured in her artful use of color.
Irene led a full and varied life. She served in the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, (WAVES) in the U.S. Navy from 1958 to l961. In 1964 she was the first rodeo queen at the opening of the Long Beach Convention Center.
She worked for KHEY radio station in the era of Elvis Presley and the Grand Ole Opry singers, where she met Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Mathis. She worked as an extra in movies, including “Kojak”, and was a model and a sales manager for Lowes in New York City.
Irene owned a dress and silk flower shop at Volcano, Calif., and designed uniforms for the Las Vegas Convention Center. She worked for charities there and met stars such as Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Elvis.
Irene enjoyed living in Mexico for 15 years during the 1970s and ’80s, first at Vallarta, then at San Miguel de Allende. She loved to travel to Europe and Central America and snorkel in The Bahamas, Camen Islands and Hawaii. She was a small plane pilot, flying all over Mexico. Irene also spoke five languages fluently.
She was married to Dave Mathias, a Marine, and they had one daughter, Lori. Her second marriage was to Fred Valentine, an airline pilot; and her third marriage was to Roger Lang, who worked in construction.
They moved to Baker City in 1990. For the last 20 years Irene had been challenged with the limitations of multiple sclerosis. Some may remember seeing her drive her motorized cart around Baker City with her Pomeranian dog riding in the basket.
In 1998, Irene moved to Halfway, where she lived for six years and enjoyed the friendship of Spring Bartlett and her daughters, Robin and Elena. She returned to Baker City to Idlewood Manor, a foster care home, where she lived for three years.
In October 2007 she moved to St. Elizabeth Care Center. Irene appreciated the hospice nurses and her caregivers until she died of cancer.
Survivors include her daughter, Lori Matthias Rose, of Crestline, Calif.; her grandchildren, Tennelle, Cris, Greg and Carli; her brother, Richard Woolstrum, and his wife, Joni, of Ione, Calif.; and her Pomeranian, “Buttons”.
She was preceded in death by her parents; and her brother, Robert Woolstrum.
Memorial contributions to defray funeral expenses may be made to Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home, P.O. Box 543, Halfway, OR 97834.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, December 19, 2007
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor