Irma Else -- Duluth

December 23, 2018

Irma Evelyn Conger Else passed away Dec. 13, 2018. She was the first of four children of James and Verna Conger. Irma was born in a log cabin nestled in the hamlet of Bankend, Saskatchewan, Canada, on Jan. 15, 1923. Her family eventually moved to the U.S. in the late 1920s.

The family ended up in the tiny town of Batavia, Iowa. During the Great Depression the family struggled to make ends meet. Irma was raised during arduous times in our country. She had few comforts. As a young girl in rural Iowa, she didn’t realize she was poor.

Irma was athletic, fast and could run like the wind. She played the Iowa brand of six-on-six girls’ basketball. Her graduating class of 1942 had eight students.

Irma married William E. Else in 1942. William was drafted into the U.S. Army on Dec. 26, 1942, and shipped overseas. Irma lived with her parents during WWII and would write letters to William daily.

Her husband served in the Pacific and he returned to the states aboard the ship USS Wayne Nov. 10, 1945. Irma was waiting for him in California. That must have been a remarkable day.

She did her best to raise five children as we came along in the ’40s, ‘50s and ’60s. She was the definitive stay-at-home Mom, making breakfast, packing lunches and getting kids off to school.

During her marriage, the family lived in Iowa, Kansas, Alaska, Alabama and Minnesota. The family was living in Anchorage, Alaska, when Alaska became a state in 1959.

The family moved to Sandstone, Minn. in 1964. Irma became involved in her church (Evangelical Free Church) and the Sandstone American Legion Auxiliary.

William died in 1999 and Irma moved to Lenox Place apartments in Duluth. For several years, she enjoyed her coffee and from the comfort of her window, she watched ships arrive and depart from Lake Superior.

It’s hard to put in perspective all the changes in the world she saw in her nearly 96 years. The final years were difficult. Every day was a struggle and she mentioned that she had lived too long. Those years were made more comfortable by the staff at Diamond Willow Assisted Living in Proctor.

Irma was preceded in death by her parents, James and Verna Conger; brother, Vern Conger; and husband, William Else.

She is survived by daughter, Patty (Robert) of Adams, Wisc.; son, Ronald (Nina) of Lakewood, Colo.; son, Loren (DeeDee) of Rochester; daughter, LaTina (Alan) of Duluth; son, Mark (Iwalani) of Duluth; brother, Orville (Ulala) of Fairfield, Iowa; and sister, Velma of Lawrence, Kan. She is also survived by eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Her mark in the world was a tiny ripple but she did her best. Thanks for all you did, Mom — we hope you are running once more — running like the wind.

Visitation will be from 1 p.m. until the 2 p.m. Celebration of Life Service on Saturday, Dec. 29 at Jarvi Dowd Funeral Home, 925 East Fourth St., Duluth. Memorials are preferred to the Sandstone American Legion Auxiliary (Unit No. 0151) or to the Alzheimer’s Association, Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter.

Please leave a memory of Irma or words of support for the family at www.bellbrothersjarvidowd.com.

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