Irene (Frund) Watkins

September 26, 1930 ~ June 30, 2021 (age 90)


Irene (Frund) Watkins, 90, passed away peacefully on Wednesday evening, June 30, 2021.

Born the daughter of Michael and Catherine (Frund) Watkins, and the youngest of nine siblings. Irene grew up on Brookside Street in Wilkes-Barre, but she made her home in Plains, after eloping on Valentine’s Day and marrying her husband, Ralph, to whom she was married to for just shy of 63 years, until his death in 2012. 

She was a graduate of Coughlin High School in 1948. Irene spent over 40 years in the garment industry, and was a proud member of The International Ladies Garment Workers Union. She had also served as a volunteer as a part of Plains Ambulance crew. 

She had hundreds of stories for every situation, and would share them with everyone she met. She always spoke her mind. She was a loving and caring person. In many hard times she filled the role of caretaker: to her father, her husband, her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She always made sure everyone was fed and looked after. During WWII, she exchanged letters with her brothers and eventually other soldiers overseas, especially those with no one else to write to. She was giving, offering whatever she could for her family in times of need, and opening her home to strangers after the Agnes flood in 1972.

Irene was fiercely independent up until the very end. She rolled her own cigarettes every day, and she always kept busy. She always had a project, and whenever she could, she would do it herself, whether it was carpentry, plumbing, mechanical, or yard work. She loved word searches and gardening, and she loved her family so, so much. 

Irene was preceded in death by her parents and siblings, by her husband, Ralph C Watkins, her beloved daughter Mary Durako, and son-in-law Bernie Durako. 

She is survived by daughter Debbie Zavada and son-in-law John, Plains; son, Ralph M. Watkins, and daughter-in-law Lisa, Plains; five granddaughters, Amy Cody and husband Tom, Mountain Top; Nicole Helmbold, Land-O-Lakes Florida; Sarah Onufer and husband David, St. Augustine, Florida; Tiffany Allabaugh and husband Phillip, Plains; April Watkins, Plains; Nine great-grandchildren, Alyssa, Phillip, and Landen Allabaugh, Noah and Bryce Helmbold, Grace and Ellie Onufer, and Anna and Kathryn Cody. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews, including George Sowpel, Massachusetts. 

Irene will be laid to rest in a private ceremony at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery, beside her husband. Arrangements are by Kniffen O'Malley Funeral Home Inc., Wilkes-Barre.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital 501 St. Jude Place Memphis, TN 38105


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