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Obituaries » Margaret Irish

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February 14, 1935 - November 2, 2019

No services in Kalamazoo are being planned. Funeral arrangements will be made at Arlington National Cemetery at a date to be determined. To make a lasting gift in Margaret’s memory, Kenneth suggests that a donation be considered to the Fisher House, Gary Sinese, or VFW National Home for Children foundations/charities.

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Our much beloved Wife, Sister, Mother, Gramma, Aunt, and Gigi Margaret Jacqueline Irish (Nies) passed away under the care of Rose Arbor Hospice, on November 2, 2019. Margaret was born on February 14, 1935 in Detroit, Michigan to Carl and Elgie (Phillips) Nies. She has been our Valentine ever since.

On Sept 3, 1955 Margaret married her soul mate, Kenneth Irish Jr and began a life full of love and adventure. Margaret spent the first thirty years as an Army officer’s wife and then followed her husband into the private sector until their retirement at age 70. She saw her husband through deployment to two wars (Vietnam and Korea) and countless other overseas assignments. She managed a family of five children while juggling her husband’s public and private careers. Margaret uprooted and replanted her family 13 times while serving our country as an Officer’s wife. Without fail, she ensured that each new city – every new country – became our home. Margaret loved her life in the military, the adventures along the way, and the devoted friends she made.

Margaret was a fiercely independent woman with a brilliant mind. She believed in earning and managing her own money in a time when most women did not do this. She enjoyed various leadership positions through the years; to include the President and Treasurer of the Officer’s Wives Signal Corp Club and the Officer’s Wives bowling leagues. In 1972 Margaret was selected as the Army’s Military Wife of the Year. Yet, her proudest work was her over 20 years as an “Arlington Lady”. Margaret attended the military honors funerals of each and every soldier she was assigned. Rain, snow, wind or otherwise – Margaret was there. She extended comforting words to each family member and passed on the condolences of the United States Army’s Chief of Staff. Margaret made the effort to know something about each soldier and challenged herself to ensure that her comments mattered.

Margaret’s passion was her husband and her family. She bestowed on them her sense of humor and her kindness – expecting they each go forth into the world and share the same. She was an internationally ranked bridge player – earning international Masters Points – making her a much sought after bridge partner! She loved socializing through various civic organizations; delivering meals to seniors and people with disabilities and volunteering transportation for people in need. Several years in a row, Margaret coordinated the local Toys for Tots initiative. She rescued hundreds of discarded baby dolls and took these home to her baby hospital. There, she painstakingly combed the baby’s hair, washed its face, and dressed the baby in a new personally sewn outfit. Each of the babies was named and a handwritten note left with each one, to be discovered by a child in need on Christmas. Margaret was an accomplished seamstress and designer of wedding gowns and formal wear. She was a gifted quilter – donating quilts for raffle to a variety of supported charities. Just before dementia took its final hold on her abilities, Margaret made over 1400 bibs, in one year, for three area providers of support to adults and children with disabilities. She seldom had idle hands and always had mending, quilting, knitting, and crocheting at her feet. She loved Scrabble, all things card related, and a good trip to the casino – where she played a mean game of blackjack, pow gai, let it ride, or poker!

Margaret was preceded in death by her parents and her eldest son Kenneth Irish III (Col Ret). She is survived by her husband of 64 years, Kenneth M Irish II, her sister Carol Doud, her children Dennis (Nancy), Timothy (Cyndee), Laura, and Susan (Anthony), her daughter in law Jill Irish, grandchildren Ben, Jacob, Bailey, Lisa, John, Jessica, Michael, Amanda, Matthew, Tisha, Sean, and Zach, and her eight great grandchildren.