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Irene M. (Harmon) Nelson

December 22, 1919 ~ April 17, 2019 (age 99)

Irene M. Nelson, age 99, of Villard, died Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at Glenwood Retirement Village. Funeral services will be Monday, April 22, 2019 at Villard United Methodist Church in Villard with Pastor Victor Jones officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church. Interment will be in Lake Leven Cemetery. Arrangements are with the Hoplin-Hitchcock Funeral Home in Glenwood. 

Irene Margaret Harmon, daughter of Charles and Nellie (Elwood) Harmon, was born at home on the family farm in Grove Lake Twp., Pope County, Minnesota, on December 22, 1919. She was welcomed by two sisters, Jessie and Dorothy, and three brothers, Roger, Donald, and Ian. A couple of years later, Irene’s younger brother, Willard was born. Sadly, on October 10, 1925, when Irene was not quite six years old, her mother, Nellie died from tuberculous. Faced with the prospect of raising seven young children by himself and operating his farm, Charles enlisted the assistance of his sister, Margaret “Maggie” Sauter to care for Irene and Willard. A couple of years later, Charles married Marion Cockburn and the children returned home. Charles and Marion blessed Irene and her siblings with a sister, Jean. Over the years, Irene remained close with her Aunt Maggie and had many happy memories of the time they spent together.

Irene attended school in Villard and graduated with the Villard High School Class of 1937. On April 15, 1939, she was united in marriage to Duncan “Kenneth” Pennie at Villard United Methodist Church, where she and her family were members. Irene and Kenneth made their home on Kenneth’s family farm, two miles north of Villard. It was there that they raised their children, Duncan Dale, Margaret, MacLaren, and Darrell. Irene helped Kenneth on the farm and lovingly cared for the home and family. She raised large gardens and was an excellent seamstress.

After the children were grown, Irene took a job as a nurse’s aide at the Glenwood Hospital. She found she enjoyed it so much that she enrolled in the licensed practical nursing program at Alexandria Vocational and Technical Institute. While Irene was enrolled in the nursing program, Kenneth became ill. She considered quitting the program, but Kenneth encouraged her to continue. He passed away on June 1, 1970, two months before Irene graduated. After receiving her degree, Irene continued to work at Glenwood Hospital until her retirement.

Irene later met Hildur “Swede” Nelson and the two married on August 20, 1975, at Villard United Methodist Church. They resided on Irene’s farm and for the next 25 years they enjoyed summers on the farm and winters in Texas.

Irene was an active member of Villard United Methodist Church and a founding member of the Northside Birthday Club. She enjoyed playing bridge, gardening, sewing, painting, and golf.

Following Swede’s death on May 27, 2005, Irene remained on the farm until the fall of 2018, when she moved to Ridgewood Villa in Glenwood. In January of this year she became a resident at Glenwood Village Care Center, where she died peacefully on April 17, 2019, having reached the age of 99 years.

Irene will be remembered as a loving wife, mother and grandmother. She was kind and generous and always had time for people. 

She is survived by her daughter, Margaret Bagstad of McAllen, TX, and her son, Maclaren Pennie of Villard; seven grandchildren, Heather (Nathan) Pennie Roy, Kit (Lynn) Pennie, Kara (Jamie) Williams, Wade (Noemi) Bagstad, Lance (Anita) Bagstad, Michelle (Clint) Ryan, and Duncan (Kelly) Pennie; 18 great-grandchildren; Roberta Jacobson and Sharron Pennie as well as many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

Irene was preceded in death by her two husbands, Duncan Kenneth Pennie and Hildur “Swede” Nelson; two sons, Duncan Dale in 1946, and Darrell in 2006; and seven siblings, Roger, Jessie LeCount, Donald, Dorothy Brees, Ian, Willard, and Jean Bowen.

May God Bless the Memory of Irene Margaret Nelson.

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