Irene Schultheiss

Aug 12th 1913 - Feb 16th 2013

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Irene Schultheiss possessed the wisdom to appreciate life’s simple pleasures: gardening, good food, the beauty of nature and – most of all – the joys of family. Family was bedrock of Irene’s life, and she loved her husband, children, and grandchildren with all her heart. Armed with a natural fearlessness and an unshakeable faith in the Lord, Irene could handle anything life threw at her, and held her family together through thick and thin. A testament to the power of compassion, faith, and hope, Irene’s life stands as both a cherished memory and an inspiration in the hearts of all those whose lives she touched.

The 1910s were a coming of age period for the United States, a time when American culture – from fashion trends to dance crazes – began to be exported throughout the world. It was also a decade of struggle and loss, marked by increasing poverty, child labor problems, and of course World War I. Irene was born in the middle of this tumultuous decade, on August 12, 1913, and shared her birth year with the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson, the introduction of Ford’s assembly line, and the publication of the first crossword puzzle.

Irene’s proud parents, Claude and Lula Howell, welcomed their infant daughter into the rural world of Middleton, Michigan. The youngest of the family, Irene had two older siblings look out for her: Lee and Leota. Since Claude supported his family as an itinerant farmer, the Howell family moved around quite a bit during Irene’s childhood.

While the family was living in Maple Rapids, Michigan, Irene met a young man by the name of Dale Schultheiss. The young couple met in a sunny strawberry field (neither one were strangers to farm life). they were later set up on a date by friends. Irene and Dale hit it off right away, but soon after they started dating Irene’s family moved to Coldwater, Michigan, in search of work. Irene attended Coldwater High School, where she enjoyed playing basketball. After Irene graduated from high school, she went on to complete beautician school.

Despite being separated geographically, Irene and Dale remained close, continuing their romance long-distance for a a time. The happy couple was united in holy matrimony on December 2, 1933, in Wheeler, Michigan, beginning a loving and committed relationship that would endure for 74 wonderful years. Irene and Dale got married on the proverbial shoestring – in fact, they ran out of gas driving home from the wedding!

Irene and Dale started their married life off living with Dale’s parents, but then moved to Lansing, Michigan, when Dale was hired by Motor Wheel. As the years went by, Irene and Dale were blessed with four children: Susan, Carol, Jim, and Dennis. Irene was a wonderful mother, and always found ways to have fun with the kids. The Schultheiss family eventually moved to a farm in Eureka, where the children spent the better part of their growing up years.

Although Irene would work as a beautician, custodian, bus driver, and teacher’s aide for disabled children throughout the course of her life, her first loves were always being a mother and helping to run the family farm. She did her best to help out with chores around the farm, and each year grew a beautiful garden. Not only did Irene prepare delicious meals for her family when the veggies and fruits were in season, she also canned the harvest so they could the fruits of the garden all year round. Irene was an adept baker, and Dale had a weakness for her cookies. It got to the point where Irene had to hide the cookies around the house to try and make them last – tracking down the tempting sweets became a game for Dale! In addition to running a well-regimented household and raising four children, Irene also took in ironing to help with the family finances.

Irene had a quiet but strong faith, and was very active in the women’s groups at church. She was always ready to spring into action to help the less fortunate, and often took care of struggling neighborhood kids. When her children were young, Irene also participated in the Child Study Club, where she learned about parenting and made several lifelong friends.

After their retirement, Dale and Irene travelled throughout the U.S. with friends. They eventually made their way to Zephyr Hills, Florida, where they settled down for a number of happy years. Irene loved the weather, and spent many contented hours working in her flower gardens under the gentle sunshine. Artistically talented, Irene’s favorite pastime was sketching and painting. She created many beautiful paintings over the years, almost all of which she lovingly gifted to friends and family members.

In 2004, Irene and Dale moved back to Michigan, where they treasured the chance to spend more time with family members. They belonged to the Forest Hill Church of Christ, where they worshiped with five generations of Irene’s family.

Outgoing and upbeat, hardworking and compassionate, Irene was a devoted wife, a loving mother and grandmother, and a loyal friend. She will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by her many friends and family members.

Mrs. Irene Ardis Schultheiss went home to be with her Lord, surrounded by her family, on February 16, 2013, at the age of 99. Irene’s family includes her children, Susan (Bob) Wernick, of Riverdale, Carol (Ron) Dow of Wichita, KS, and Jim (Tomi Ann) Schultheiss of St. Johns; 12 grandchildren; 34 great grandchildren; and 11 great-great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dale, in 2008; her son, Dennis, in 1968; her brother, Lee Howell; and her sister, Leota Cochran.

Funeral Services will be held at the Forest Hill Church of Christ, 10015 N. Luce Rd., Alma, MI, on Wednesday, February 20, at 11 a.m., with John Robinson officiating. Visitation will be at the Osgood Funeral Home in St. Johns on Tuesday, February 19, from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. There will also be visitation at the Church one hour prior to the service. Burial will be at the Mt. Rest Cemetery in St. Johns with graveside services for the family at a later date. Memorials may be made to the Forest Hill Church of Christ or the local Cancer Society. Please visit Irene’s personal memory page at, where you can learn more about her life, share a favorite memory or photo, and sign the online guestbook.

Irene Schultheiss