Irma Jean Edwards, 97

Funeral services for Irma Jean Smith, 97, were held May 20 at Clausen Funeral Home,Burke with pastor Gary Jacobsen officiating.

Burial was in Hillsview Cemetery, Dallas.

Irma Jean Edwards Smith died on May 15. She was born near Dallas on June 21, 1925, the seventh of James and Martha (Emme) Edwards’s 11 children.

Irma Jean grew up during the hard times of the Dirty Thirties. She and her sister Verna Mae lived in the dormitory while they attended Dallas High School and were the first in the family to graduate. During WW II, after only a six-week summer training course, she taught a rural school for two years.

Irma Jean married her high school sweetheart, Orrin William Smith, on Nov. 5, 1947. Their first home was a tiny trailer in northwestern South Dakota where Orrin worked for a construction company and Irma Jean had ample space as she learned to drive. Their second home was a slightly less tiny trailer house on Orrin’s family farm north of Dallas, where they welcomed their first two daughters, Karel and Kathleen. In 1955 they moved to a farm near Dixon, where their third daughter, Laurel, joined the family.

In 1957, Irma Jean’s father died, and the family moved to the Edwards farm north of Dallas. A fourth daughter, Nancy, completed their family. Irma Jean and Orrin farmed and raised cattle until they retired in the late 1990’s. In 2007 they moved to Herrick. Their marriage lasted 69 years, until Orrin’s death in 2016.

Whether in a cramped trailer or the old family farmhouse, Irma Jean created comfortable, welcoming homes. She was an artist with fabric, sewing beautifully tailored clothes for herself and her daughters and creating many lovely quilts. She and Orrin shared a love of dancing, hunting, and fishing; she was confident and competent on the dance floor, in the kitchen, at the sewing machine, or behind the wheel of a grain truck. She compiled several books of family genealogy and history. Irma Jean was a fierce competitor at Scrabble and kept her sharp wit and sense of humor until the end of her life.

Irma Jean was preceded in death by her parents; her siblings and in-laws, Arthur Edwards (in childhood), Marie and John Stuckers, Howard and Shirley Edwards, Ernest Edwards, Mabel and Ron MacKenzie, Edna Ernsdorff, Allen Edwards, Carma Edwards, and Frank Putz; and sons-in-law Wayne Christopherson and Alvis Lisenbee.

She is survived by her daughters Karel (Robert) Birnie of Salix, IA, Kathleen Christopherson of Rapid City, SD, Laurel (Ken) Shaffer of Lennox, SD, and Nancy (Jim) Krier of Herrick, SD; her sisters Verna Mae Buhr of Viroqua, WI, and Verdene (Ralph) Parker of Gering, NE, brother Alvin Edwards of Kearney, NE; sister-in-law Geneva Putz of Park Rapids, MN; nine grandchildren: Valerie (Mike) Birnie DeBates, Sara (Chris) Birnie Allen, Jacqueline (Joe) Birnie Bates, Orrin (Alicia) Johnson, Ingrid (Jason) Johnson Reuter, Alissa (Jeremy) Shaffer Luden, Amy (Ryan) Shaffer Penning, Natalie (Fidel) Krier Arreola, and Samuel Krier; eighteen great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

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