Nielsen (Holman), Irene

Neilson (Holman)
Written by ECA Review

Nielsen (Holman)

Irene Nielsen (Holman) was born on March 30, 1941 in Luseland, Sask.

“She lived in the Primate, Sask. area until she was six-years-old when the family moved to Condor, where mom began school.

She was very smart and skipped Grade 3.

She went on to attend high school at Theresetta School in Castor, Alta.

After graduating, she enrolled at Henderson’s Secretarial College in Red Deer then went to work at the Department of Highways for two years.

It was during this time that Mom met Dad at the Ponoka Stampede and they were married in August of 1961.

They lived in Lacombe for a year then bought their farm at Garden Plain on Aug. 1962.

In September of that same year, Kathleen was born, then Sheila in 1963, Douglas in 1966 and Kenneth in 1968.

Mom worked hard on the farm, especially in the early years.

There was no running water and we had a coal furnace and stove.

With four little kids to look after, that meant a lot of water hauling and coal ashes to lug out. Mom always grew a big garden and spent a lot of time freezing, canning and pickling all the produce.

In the early years, Mom and Dad also raised pigs.

Every so often the pigs would get out and start rooting up Mom’s garden.

There was a lot of hollering and arm-waving going on to get those darn pigs out of the veggies!

Mom always grew five or six rows of potatoes and it was our job to weed those rows.

The rows seemed five miles long and we liked to complain about that.

Looking back though, Mom had the toughest job digging all those potatoes in the fall.

During haying season, Mom would be enlisted to help in the hayfield. Her job was to rake the hay, and as an added bonus, she would inevitably drive too close to the edge of the field and take out a half a mile of fence.

Dad wasn’t very pleased but he needed the help.

Mom was very happy when the kids got old enough to take over the fieldwork.

However, she was always willing to drop whatever she was doing to do a parts run or move vehicles and equipment around whenever needed.

The farm was always a gathering place for family and friends to come visit.

For many years, Mom held a ‘bachelor party’ after Christmas.

She’d invite all the neighbourhood bachelors over for an excellent supper and an evening of visiting which lasted until the wee hours of the morning. It was very much appreciated.

Mom had been a recycler since long before it was fashionable.

Anything that she thought would come in handy for something she would keep. We always gave her a hard time about her stash, but the joke was on us many times when we’d ask her for something.

After rummaging through piles of treasures, she’d come out with just the thing we needed!

She was also known for using margarine containers to store leftovers in the fridge.

Sometimes we’d have to look through 10 margarine containers to find the actual margarine!

Mom enjoyed doing crafts and taught herself how to make many things. She liked to be productive and have something to show for her labours every day.

She delighted in giving us and the grandkids her handmade rugs, blankets, holiday ornaments and sewing projects.

These are real treasures to us all.

Another of her hobbies was her computer.

She loved keeping tabs of everyone on Facebook. She was also a Google queen – if some question came up during a conversation, she would quickly look up the answer.

Mom was a rodeo fan all of her life. Last year mom and Sheila fulfilled a bucket list wish by attending the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer.

Sheila, unfortunately, bought tickets for the wrong event. But Mom really wanted to see the rodeo, so we ended up buying scalped tickets which bewildered and slightly horrified mom.

We did see the rodeo though, and mom happily told Sheila all about every cowboy as they competed.

Mom loved to dance. In fact, she met Dad at a dance and together they took every opportunity they could to head over to the Garden Plain Hall to dance.

They joined the Botha Dance Club in 1986 and spent many happy hours dancing around that hall.

They made good friends in that club and that led to their decision to move to the Stettler area.

Mom was very happy when they finally retired and moved to their acreage south of Stettler.

She loved living there and being only five miles from town.

Her circle of friends grew through the many church and community events she attended. She started volunteering at Superfluity two days a month and enjoyed it very much.

She took great pride and satisfaction in caring for her lawn and garden, watching the wildlife that came through the yard and walking on the nature trail and around the fishpond.

Last year, she rescued a baby deer that got stuck in the page wire fence with the weary mama deer frantically standing by.

Her cat Little Willis was a great companion and always brought her joy. Mom’s faith was very strong, and she took great comfort in that, always, saying ‘The Good Lord will look after me.’

She sang in the choir at St. George’s Catholic Church in Hanna for many years and regularly attended mass in Stettler when they moved there.

Mom and Dad were blessed with six grandchildren. She was able to see all of them complete post-secondary education and was very proud of them all.

Fond memories

These are some of their fond memories of their Grandma: Jeffrey remembers all the good food at Grandma’s and the smell of onions which were cut up for making the stuffing.

Moriah (who she always called ‘Riah) remembers Grandma being hardworking, patient and kind. She took pride in everything she did. When Moriah looks around the farm, she remembers the lessons Grandma taught her; keep the house clean, keep the yard in ship shape and have something to show for every day. She only remembers Grandma cursing once when Moriah and Michaela accidentally left the gate open, and the heifers got out when Dad and Grandpa were busy out in the field. They did manage to get them back in.

Dayna remembers Grandma driving her in her “little bus” to Dayna’s various extracurricular activities sometimes when her Mom or Dad couldn’t. They were usually running a little late, so right as they were getting on the highway she’d say “Okay Dayna Marie, I’ll drive, you watch for cops.” They always got there in good time.

Jolene remembers Grandma always telling her that if she ate her crusts, her hair would curl, but if she didn’t eat her crusts, she wouldn’t get dessert. Jolene avoided that punishment by just not eating toast for breakfast. Now Jolene does begrudgingly eat her crusts but is a little disappointed she still has stick straight hair.

Michaela remembers Grandma teaching her some German words. Michaela asked her how to say Grandmother in German, to which she responded, “grossmutter.” Michaela jokingly changed it to “goosemudder” which was always met with her scolding “Chaela! It’s grossmutter” followed by a laugh and a hug. She also remembers Grandma teaching her how to crochet.

Johnathan remembers Grandma saying ‘JD, I’ll paddle your britches’ then laughing. He would go to Grandma’s house when he was sick and play dominos. They got in one last game this spring. He also remembers how Grandma absolutely loved their pet duck Cheepy and would sit and pet him for hours at a time.

Mom started having heart issues in 2011 and had open heart surgery in 2013.

She was determined to attend Dayna and Moriah’s high school graduation one week after she was released from the hospital which she did.

She enjoyed six years of relatively good health after that.

This spring, she started having issues with her heart again and ultimately, her heart gave out.”

Mom was predeceased by her parents Michael and Anna Holman, her sister Doreen Payne, brother-in-law Jim Payne, nephew Donald Payne and her loving husband, Henry Nielsen.

She is lovingly remembered by her children Kathy and her husband Doug Ray; Sheila and her husband Dave Rudisuela and their children Jeffrey and Jolene; Doug and his wife Calista and their children Dayna and Johnathan; and Ken and Marilyn and his children Moriah and Michaela.

She is also fondly remembered by her aunts, sister-in-law Doris, many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Her kitty Little Willis misses her too.

It is a difficult thing to lose our mom and grandmother. We will always cherish these and many other memories of her.

Funeral mass was held at Christ King Catholic Church on Wed., July 24, 2019 at 11 a.m. with Father Roger Niedzielski as Celebrant.

Several family and friends honoured Irene by taking part in the service.

Irene was laid to rest at Hanna Cemetery with her beloved Henry. Dallas Chidley, Bob Anderson, Norman Storch, Jim Lepard, Lee Gustafson and Doug Haustein acted as pallbearers.

Family and friends gathered in the Parish Hall for a time of fellowship and a luncheon hosted by the Christ King Catholic Women’s League.

Memorial donations may be made to Alberta Heart and Stroke Foundation or a charity of your own choice.

Condolences may be sent to the family at

Stettler Funeral Home & Crematorium entrusted with the care and funeral arrangements.

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