GREENVILLE, S.C. -Irene E. O'Brien, 96, of Greenville, S.C., passed away Sept. 30, 2012, at home with her family.
Irene was born on a farm in the Upper Peninsula in the summer of 1916. She spent her carefree childhood playing with animals, swimming and going to barn dances in summers, ice skating and skiing to school in winters.
Irene was a strong, independent and brave woman who was ahead of her time. When faced with difficult life circumstances, she overcame them and raised three children on her own. She was a woman who shared her strong work ethic, joy and grace with those around her.
Irene lived in Flint for more than 30 years. She retired from the Buick Factory and was a member of the UAW International Union. When Irene retired, she moved to Greenville, S.C., to be closer to her family.
Irene enjoyed every day of retirement and spent many happy hours painting watercolors, feeding and watching birds, gardening, traveling and spending time with her family.
She was active with the Senior Action Center for years and was a member of Christ the King Lutheran Church.
Irene was the fifth child of the late Henry Soini of Helsinki, Finland, and Ida Habesara of Boston, Mass.
She is survived by her daughter, Patricia Richards of Greenville; nine grandchildren, Amy Richards and Evan Krauter of Greenville, John and Kathy Jones of Jonesboro, Ark., Daniel Jones of Jonesboro, Ark., Sheri Sadler of Nazareth, Pa., Robert and Jerri Jones of Jonesboro, Ark., and Kathron Richards of Roanoke, Va.; 12 great-grandchildren; seven great-great-grandchildren; a nephew and niece, Donald and Marie Juntunen of Houghton.
Irene was predeceased by her eldest daughter and son-in-law, Rose J. and J.B. Jones of Jonesboro, Ark.
A memorial service will be held at Christ the King Lutheran Church on Sunday, October 7, at 4 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Christ the King Lutheran Church, 1925 Pelham Road, Greenville, SC 29615.
Fletcher Funeral Service is in charge of arrangements.