Irene was born March 27, 1936, in Great Falls to John Paul “Pat” and Beulah Irene Briese Graham. The family moved to Loma to farm, where she attended school for a few years. She later moved back to Great Falls and continued to go to school.
She loved to dance and would travel around the area to attend dances. At a dance in Fairfield she met W. Earl Sheldon, who she later married on June 26, 1953 in Conrad. They were married for 56 years.
They lived in Great Falls, Sun River, Roy, and Lewistown before they settled on raising their family in Vaughn. They lived there until 1978, when they moved to the farm on the Fairfield bench to watch after Earl’s mother. She continued to live there until Earl’s death in 2009, when she moved to Great Falls to watch after her mother.
Shortly after her move to Great Falls Irene struggled with health issues and had a couple of bouts with cancer. It was a hard fight, but she still accomplished a lot during that time.
Irene was an active member of the Sun River and Fairfield LDS Ward, where she served as Relief Society President, in the Primary, in Scouts as a den leader and other scouting positions, and as a temple worker. She also enjoyed quilting, gardening, drawing and painting.
She is survived by four sons, Wes (Carolyn) of Cedar City, Utah, Ken (Shirley) of Vaughn, Mearl (DeeAnna) of Moab, Utah, and Neil (Christine) of Great Falls; three daughters, Neidra (Herb) Phinney of Vaughn, Lola (Steve) Galloway of Great Falls, and Jean (Mike) Kronevich Sheldon of Great Falls; her mother, Beulah Thurber of Great Falls; a sister, Roberta (Ron) Strizich, formerly of Cascade; a brother, Garry (Donna May) Graham of Loma; 33 grandchildren and 50 great-grandchildren; and numerous nephews and nieces.
Funeral services were held on Saturday Jan. 26, at the Sun River Ward Chapel. Interment followed at the Manchester Cemetery.
Services were under the direction of the Croxfords Funeral Home in Montana, and Spanish Valley Mortuary in Moab.