VIROQUA — Irene Marlene (Olson) Riley, 72, of Viroqua died Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, at the Bland Bekkedal Center for Hospice Care. She had been diagnosed with gastric cancer at the end of 2018 and courageously endured chemotherapy and radiation. Even though the disease and treatment were rough, she was very grateful for all the care she received and said she’d miss those sweet girls in oncology and radiation departments. We couldn’t have found a better place for her final days other than the Hospice Center, as she had such wonderful care.
Irene was born Feb. 22, 1947, in rural Viroqua, to Jacob and Clara (Olson) Olson. She was the ninth of 10 children. She married Elwyn (Jerry) Riley April 20, 1974, and they began their marriage as dairy farmers in Readstown. They had two children, April and Shane. While helping with farming and raising a family, Irene decided to go back to school to earn her G.E.D. and kept going to obtain her CNA license. She worked many years as a CNA at Vernon Manor and Bethel Home in Viroqua, Norseland Nursing home in Westby, Sannes Skogdalen in Soldiers Grove and also as an in-home care provider.
Irene may have been small, but was known for her enormous heart and spunk. She loved all children, was generous to those who needed a little help, had a strong work ethic, but had the ability to have a lot of fun once the chores were done. She enjoyed sharing her home-style cooking and no one ever left their house hungry or empty handed. If you showed up at the wrong time, she wasn’t afraid to put you to work either. She enjoyed taking care of their garden, dogs, cats, chickens and other farm animals they had collected along the way.
She loved spending time with and was very proud of her husband and kids, but her grandson, Sawyer, was the keeper of her heart. Her young spirit allowed her to keep up with him, even though at six he was almost as tall as her. Grams will be missed dearly.
She is survived by her husband, Jerry; her children, April (Tyler) Schoolcraft of Black River Falls and Shane of rural Viroqua; her grandson, Sawyer; and two brothers, Benny and Henry (Milli) Olson. She is preceded in death by her parents; and siblings, Bernice (Fred) Schultz, Olena (Paul) Welker, Raymond, Glen, David, Steve and Daniel; sister-in-law, Beverly (Benny) Olson; and many other dear relatives and friends.
Private services for Irene are being tended to, as well as her final resting place amongst family members at the Liberty Pole Cemetery. Online condolences may be offered at www.vossfh.com. The Vosseteig-Larson Funeral Home in Viroqua, 123 W. Decker, is serving the family, (608) 637-2100.