Irene (Mildred) Mathews Williams, 73, formerly of Reading, Pennsylvania, passed away in Virginia Beach on Tuesday September 28 due to the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease. Born Mildred Irene Mathews in Sunbury, Pennsylvania to Robert and Mildred Mathews, Irene was the oldest of seven.
She loved her six younger siblings and was often the caretaker and peacemaker of the family, the glue that held them all together. She regularly patched up mishaps or bruises her brothers and sisters got into as kids. Family gatherings became yearly traditions due to Irene’s dedication to her family and desire to keep the whole clan close-knit. Her friendship with her sisters was an incredible bond and together they shared endless laughter.
In 1984 Irene took her children on a road trip to Wyoming for the summer, a bold venture for a newly single woman. She topped that in 1987 when she decided that Europe for six weeks was a good way to show her kids different cultures. Her love for travel never ceased, and she continued to explore the world with her friends throughout her later years.
She taught herself to ski at 38, bringing her kids, then 10 and 12, along. They still enjoy the benefits of her adventuresome nature and have passed it on to Irene’s grandchildren who are expert competitive skiiers thanks to her.
It was “interesting” having a mother who taught at your high school, Wilson High School in West Lawn, PA. She returned to work there for 20 years until her retirement after taking time from her first role teaching in the Reading School District to raise her two children. She knew how to handle the principal (her boss) presenting her with her teenage son’s lost wallet that contained an ID indicating he was five years older than he really was. She also managed night after night of dealing with an ungrateful recipient of her expert tutoring. It’s amazing, looking back, to have had a math teacher as a mom.
Irene was an impressive cook, once indicating, as it got late and there was still no dinner, that, “I looked in the freezer, and everything was frozen”. Irene loved her late mother’s wit and sense of humor which Irene successfully replicated throughout her years.
Creative and crafty, her house was full of macrame lamps (at least 6 of them), hook and loop rugs, stained glass, painted ceramic stamped/pressed metal wall art, cross stitch, needlepoint, and the list goes on. She had her “Mathews Orchards”cross stitch on her wall in her room at the memory center. Much of her other work now exists in her kids’ homes and there may even be a macrame lamp or two in her ex-husband’s basement.
She will be missed by her children: Jennifer (Guigley) Shaeffer and Robert Guigley, son-in-law Jason Shaeffer, daughter-in-law Kimberly (Green) Guigley, and grandchildren:Callen and Hudson Shaeffer, and Brynn and Emerson Guigley. Her siblings: Keith, Richard, and Len Mathews, Patty Ziegler, Shirlee Rainey and Mary Mathews (deceased).
In lieu of cards or flowers, the family requests donations to the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of Irene. All are welcome to a celebration of life that will be held Saturday, November 27th in Southeastern Pennsylvania, location to be updated in Irene’s memorial website: https://www.mykeeper.com/profile/irenewilliams/.