Obituary: Irene Marie Wigington
February 8, 1932 – November 22, 2020
Irene was born on Silt Mesa, Colorado to Bortolo and Celestina Griefenberg. Irene’s grandparents were born in Torino (Turin), Italy and Irene’s father came to the United States from Italy when he was 16 years old to work in the mines in Colorado. Irene’s father died when she was only 3 years old due to pneumonia from working in the mines.
Irene’s mother remarried and they moved to Rifle Colorado when Irene was in high school. Irene was President of her senior class, was in the honor society throughout high school, pep club, dance club, blue and gold, annual staff, dramatics club and junior class play. She was named “most courteous girl” in her senior class. It was in her senior year that she met Jack Wigington, her first boyfriend and the love of her life. Jack and Irene were King and Queen of their senior prom. Irene and Jack graduated with the class of 1950. Irene had a love of fashion and friends. Jack and Irene hosted many dinner parties at their home. In later years, Irene hosted an annual champagne party with several of her closest friends.
In the Fall of 1950, Irene followed her dream in becoming a nurse and set off to Denver to attend St. Joseph’s Hospital nursing school. Irene and Jack stayed in touch during that time. Jack joined the Army and they wrote many letters to each other during the time they were apart. After Irene graduated and Jack returned from the Army, they were married in Rifle on November 23, 1955. They built a house on Graham Mesa in Rifle and still reside on that property. Within a few years their son Mark was born. Seven years later their daughter Mellisa was born. Together with Jack, they raised their two children in a happy and loving home. Irene and Jack were blessed with grandchildren when Mark wed Mary, who had four children.
Irene started her nursing career at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction. She wanted to work on the night shift on the Med/Surg floor but the hospital needed her in the operating room as a scrub nurse. She later worked as a nurse at Clagett Memorial Hospital in Rifle wherever the hospital needed her, in the OR, L & D, med/surg. She became the first Director of Nursing in Rifle at Clagett Memorial Hospital. Irene finished her career working at the Rifle Clinic until her retirement.
Because of her career in nursing, she inspired her daughter, Mellisa, and her granddaughter, Amanda, to become nurses.
On Saturday, November 21, 2020 Jack and Irene celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary with family. Irene thoroughly enjoyed the day and many great memories were shared and new memories were made. Irene passed peacefully at her home the next day, Sunday, November 22, 2020.
Irene was a devout Catholic and attended St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Rifle where her funeral services and rosary were held on Friday, November 27th. Appreciation to both Father Garcia for officiating her funeral mass and to her brother Bert for leading the rosary.
Irene is survived by her husband Jack, her son Mark (Mary) and daughter Mellisa Saylor (Lloyd), her brother Bert (Portia), her cousin Bill Bugni, three grandchildren, Tiffany, Veronica (Michael), Amanda (Jacob), ten great-grandchildren, two great-great grandchildren and many very special nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, grandson Jeremy and great-granddaughter EmmaLeigh.
Irene’s family would like to thank HopeWest Hospice Plateau Valley Office for caring for her in her final days, with special thanks to Linda her nurse and Karla her CNA.
The Griefenberg and Wigington families would be honored if you chose to make a donation in Irene’s name to HopeWest Hospice, 3090 N. 12th Street, Unit B Grand Junction, CO 81506.
Irene will be remembered as a kind and loving wife, mother, and extraordinary nurse.
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