Irene Kathryn Espe, 92, of Cedar Rapids, died Friday, April 27, 2018, at West Ridge Care Center in Cedar Rapids. Funeral service: 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 1, 2018, at Cedar Hills Community Church in Cedar Rapids. A visitation will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 30, 2018, at Cedar Hills Community Church and one hour prior to service. Entombment: Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
Irene was born Jan. 24, 1926, the daughter of Thomas and Kate (Folkerts) Kruse, in Sheffield, Iowa. She graduated from Steamboat Rock High School. Irene then went on to graduate from Evangelical Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing in Marshalltown in January 1947. During her career, she worked for St. Luke's Hospital and, later, Mercy Hospital in Cedar Rapids. On Feb. 26, 1954, Irene was married to Arnold L. Espe in Steamboat Rock.
Irene was a humble soul who lived a life of service to honor her Lord and Savior. She loved the beauty of God's creation, especially flowers and the birds who flocked to her feeders. Irene loved her family and enjoyed any time she spent with them, often reminding them that laughter was the best medicine for reviving the soul. Her sweet spirit encouraged everyone she met.
Irene attended First Baptist Church in Marion for over 60 years and was a very active member, with many long-term friendships. In the last few years, she also attended Cedar Hills Community Church with her children. Irene was dedicated to volunteering with many organizations, including Bridgehaven and Indian Creek Nature Center.
Survivors include her three children, Ann Harris, Mark (Cindy) Espe and Mary (Kent) Landhuis; four grandchildren, Sarah (Josh) Wilson, Kyle (Taira) Harris, Casey (Nathan) Cooper and Ryan Espe; five great-grandchildren, Emmalyn Cooper, Autumn Irene Cooper, Tamsyn Harris, Calvin Wilson and Kester Wilson; two sisters, Ruth Bleeker and Shirley Meester; sister-in-law, Beulah Kruse; and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband; parents; five brothers, Ernie, Thomas, Arnold, Robert and Donald Kruse; niece, Suzanne Stephens; six brothers-in-law, Darryl Bleeker, Alvin Meester, Ohmer Girouex, Joe Girouex, Orvin Espe and Irwin Boeke; and four sisters-in-law, Lavonne Kruse, Lillian Boeke, Connie Espe and Doris Girouex.
The family wishes to extend a special thank-you to the staff of West Ridge Care Center, Synergy Homecare and Unity Point Hospice for their wonderful care of Irene.
Memorials may be directed to Bridgehaven, 701 Center Point Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402, or to Equipping Youth, 118 Third Ave. SE #431, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401, in memory of Irene.
Online condolences may be directed to the family at www.cedarmemorial.com under Obituaries.