Irene Sterzinger
(1917 - 2013)

Irene Sterzinger

November 25, 1917

Texas, United States of America
July 2, 2013

Welcome to this website created to honor the life of Irene Sterzinger.
We hope you will contribute to this site with your own story entries and pictures.
Since many of those who knew and loved Irene live far away from Texas and would have been unable to attend a memorial service, we set up this site as a way of honoring Irene and sharing our memories and thoughts about her.
Thank you for visiting!

Irene Browne Sterzinger was born in Lyndhurst, New Jersey on November 25, 1917. Her parents, Donald B. Browne and Madeline Miller Browne met in N.Y. city.
Donald was born in Glasgow Scotland. he had 7 brothers and sisters, one of which was his twin sister Helen.
Madeline and Donald married and lived in Nutley New Jersey where they raised their 9 children. Irene was the fourth child.
She remembered hard times during the depression years, with soup and biscuits for many dinners. She recalls even in the hard times, their house was filled with music. Her dad played the violin and her mother the piano.
Irene was very proud of her mother’s work as a volunteer with the Salvation Army. She remembers walking to Sunday School with all her brothers and sisters. She regretfully recalls the brood purchasing penny candy with the offering money that was given to them by her parents!
Tuberculosis was prevalent during those times and Irene’s mother contracted the disease and died when Irene was in Junior High School. Later her older two sisters died of the disease as well.
Her father was unable to care for the nine children and the family was split up.

This story was written by Irene and presented to her Sunday School class in Texas. It describes her early school years in New Jersey.
“This was not the usual private school. Our dorm mother, Miss Scott, had taught in other private schools and spoke three languages. She shared her many experiences with us.
These were the years of the great depression and Miss Scott could not find employment anywhere else. She was happy to be with us and we liked her too. Our Director, Miss Anna Peterson was a graduate of North Western University and a dedicated fine person.
This unique school included a girl’s dorm, a boy’s dorm and a nursery. We attended a local school and a local church. We had school clothes and play clothes. The play clothes consisted of a blue middie blouse with black tie and black bloomers. We attended concerts at the local YMHA and enjoyed other activities as well. Ten of us were privileged to take piano lessons.
Discipline problems were resolved by with holding Sunday ice cream or by being unable to participate in the next scheduled activity.
In summer, we were transported by bus to our summer home, singing all the way. There we enjoyed swimming, crafts, and roasting marsh mellows on the camp fire. We attended the local church and at the end of the season, we presented a play for the church and neighbors. One presentation was a rendition of Little Women.
If you have guessed that this unique school was actually an orphanage, you have guessed correctly. My five year old sister and I at age 13 were placed in the home after our parents died. We were a family of 9 children. Two of my sisters were on their own, the 4 boys were taken to a farm in southern New Jersey and raised in a foster home. Florence was the youngest child and 3 years old at the time. She went to live with an aunt and uncle.
I needed to give you this background because it was here that I was” kept in his care” for all those years. It was here, at 323 High Street where I became a Christian.
Our church, Peddie Memorial Baptist, had evangelistic services with Charlie Taylor. Three of the older girls were allowed to attend one of the evenings. I was one of them. Following the service an invitation was given to accept Jesus. I suddenly felt a strong desire to go down from the balcony to the front of the church and receive Jesus into my heart. When the pastor asked me if I wanted to accept Jesus as my Lord, I said yes. At that moment I felt a flow of peace from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. All I could say was, “God is with me”. I did not know that it was the Holy Spirit that urged me to go forward. I started a Bible study in the dorm at the orphanage. After graduating from 8th grade, I was allowed to have a party. One of the gifts I received was a halo. I guess I must have been talking about my new experience accepting Jesus.
After graduating from high school, I attended The Packard Secretarial School in New York city, paid for by my high school art teacher! Yes, I was “kept in His Care”.

After business school, Irene worked at the Prudential Insurance Company. It was here that she met Arthur F. Sterzinger who was working full time during the day and completing his business degree at Rutgers University at night. They were married three years later.
Art and Irene built their home in Mountainside N.J. Irene attended the Mountainside Gospel Chapel- the very same church she had attended during summer vacation while in the orphanage.
Irene and Art had 2 children, Robert and Janis, 8 grandchildren and 4 great grand children.
One of her most memorable experiences was being a contestant on "the Price is Right" TV show in 1959. Irene won a tug boat on the show but soon traded it in for a more practical power boat.
After her children were older, Irene went back to work in the medical records department at Children's Specialized Hospital in Mountainside. She worked there until retiring. She and Art moved to Cape Cod MA in 1982.
After Art passed away in 1989, Irene moved to Fishkill N.Y. to be closer to her daughter Janis. She moved again in 2000 to Katy Texas, following the Nelson's move there in 1999.

Irene began showing signs of dementia following her move to Texas, but was still able to continue living on her own for a few more years.
In 2005 she moved in with Janis and Ed, staying in their home for 5 years. After serious concerns for her safety , she moved to an assisted living home which specialized in memory care.
Along with her increasing memory loss, Irene also lost some of her self consciousness/inhibitions. She became more playful and silly in those later years, especially enjoying the attention that she received at birthdays and special occasions. She loved listening to music and would often dance with the staff members at her new home.(see the video!)
One of the ways Janis was able to connect with her during those final months was by watching a Gaither Vocal Band DVD together on the lap top. On a good day, she would still bop her head to the music and tap her hand to the beat!
Although no longer able talk or walk, she still recognized family and tried her best to communicate that she liked Ed's seersucker shirt or Janis' new shoes!

While to the outsider, Irene's life story seems somewhat understated. She never held a high powered job,, rubbed elbows with influential people or became rich and famous (except for her TV appearance on The Price is Right), but she had a huge impact on the lives of those around her.
Her ongoing hunger to be close to God drove her to a faithful life of prayer, Bible study and service.
Her faith was lived out in her every moment and she freely shared the importance of the Lord in her life to those around her.
Even as her body and mind began to fail, her spirit remained strong. The following story written by Ed, describes her faithfulness:

The other night Janis and Corrie went out to a movie and it was my job to “put” my mother in law Irene to bed. She brushed her own teeth but I had to turn on the electric toothbrush, remind her to brush all of her teeth and clean the toothbrush and turn it off when done. She becomes less able , less aware, more confused with each passing day. I reminded her to put on her pajamas and I went to repair her toothbrush. When I came back a few minutes later, I opened the door from Trevor’s room and saw Irene kneeling by her bed in prayer. She was having Her nighttime prayers. It surprised me. Here is someone who can’t operate a toothbrush, can’t remember the day of the week, the time of day or sometimes her own family members, yet she can remember to set apart this time of day before bed to pray. I wondered when it had all started? How long had she been following this bended- knee- before- bed ritual that was more deeply ingrained in her pattern of life then brushing her teeth? At 93 she may have been doing this since her time at the orphanage at 12, or since she was born again at a Newark, NJ revival. I don’t know but it struck me that she could remain so faithful over the years and through the mental deterioration of her disease, while I can’t establish a constant pattern of prayer and devotion. But her example shows it is possible and may be the spark that continues to guide her and keep her going through these difficult sunset years. To Irene, kneeling in prayer is more important than brushing her teeth or remembering how to dress herself. This is what it means to Irene to be “constant in prayer ,' in it for the long haul ,before everything else and as the thankful “period’ at the end of each daily sentence of her life.

Not long after Irene moved into Autumn Grove Assisted Living facility she became weak, nearly unconscious with her heart racing. We thought she was in a downward path and slipping to a quiet end. Ed went to visit and pray over her and was reading some of her favorite Psalms aloud while she lay silently in bed. Hearing these verses she begin to smile and then mouth and then repeat these words that she had committed to memory. She eventually recovered but Ed wrote this poem about the experience.

An Orphan On Her Way

I saw her smile today.
Waking, she heard the name of her Savior
and said, “Praise God.”
Through the years and beyond the pain
her heart raced.
Tremulous lips moved with the voice of the Psalmist;
“Blessed is the man”, and the words reverberated through her life.
“Know ye that the Lord, He is God”,
and she knelt in gratitude.
“Though I walk through...
and she saw the other side, and the peace that endures.
“I will never leave you,” and he never would,
never did.

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Guest Book (16 entries)
I have such fond memories of Mrs Sterzinger. I spent a lot of time during my childhood playing with Janis in her home. Irene was always so kind, generous and welcoming. She was like a second mother. I have such a soft spot in my heart for her. I have enjoyed looking at all the pictures- Irene through the years!
Carol Mendenhall Beach (Friend)
May 19th, 2019
When I think back a year ago...
I remember being in the mountains, breathing in the fresh air.
I read through a journal entry from that time and I wrote about how every night since we knew Mema's health was declining rapidly and nearing the end "I prayed myself to sleep every night...I haven't done that in awhile", I wrote. I remember feeling sad I couldn't be there to say goodbye, or be there to support my parents during the difficult nights and days. And, though Mema's passing was painful and sad to have our collections of memories this side of heaven come to an end, it was expected. And for me it almost felt comforting. Brooklyn didn't feel quite so far away anymore knowing that her great grandmother had met her in glory. I still feel a little bad about feeling that way, but I guess if there's one thing a grandmother should be it's comforting. They're the reminder in the midst of life that everything is going to be Ok because there's cookies, and bed time stories, and life lessons to be learned. So even in her departure she was exactly what a grandma should be.

Her life, her faith and its influence has woven itself into the fabric of my family. Even recently with Lydia Irene born to us just 2 weeks ago.

Corrie Hull
Corrie Hull (Granddaughter)
July 2nd, 2014
It is so hard to believe that it has been one year since mom passed away to her heavenly home.
We all miss her so much, but are comforted to know she is with Jesus, worshipping Him and enjoying His presence.
We recently celebrated the birth of our second grand daughter on June 18th. Lydia IRENE is Corrie and Adam's new addition.
Another baby, Claire IRENE was born this year to grand daughter, Jill.
It is nice to see mom's legacy live on in the selection of her great grand daughter's names. I wish she would have been able to meet them both (as well as her other great grand children), but knowing her memory is honored and kept alive through their names is a blessing!
We pray that both will reflect the kindness and spiritual strength that their great grandmother so obviously displayed!
Here is something I found in one of mom's many journals. It is a code she certainly lived by:
Trust God fully
Obey Him gladly
Confess sins daily
Be kind to others
I don't know the author, but it does describe my mom's daily objectives!
Janis Nelsonn (daughter)
July 2nd, 2014
i have such wonderful memories of irene! as a classmate and friend of janis, and also a fellow mountainside chapel member, i saw her love for the Lord in many ways. so many fun times in their home too.
linda clark (friend)
December 14th, 2013
Remembering Mema on her birthday today. I always thought that her birthday being the week of Thanksgiving was really fitting. Mema always exemplified what Thanksgiving was all about- serving and caring for others.

One of my favorite memories of Mema is when I would go to her house for lunch after church. She would make me tuna fish or peanut butter sandwiches toasted in her toaster oven (which I always thought was so cool). Mema's house didn't have any video games or fun toys. Just an old, shedding teddy bear I would play with and a lot of uncomfortable furniture. Even still, I always loved going to Mema's and spend time with her.
Trevor Nelson (Grandson)
November 25th, 2013
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"Aunt Irene is surely missed. My brother Chuck and I have many fond childhood memories. I remember going to vacation bible school at the local church in the summer. We spent many happy holidays in Mountainside,NJ with Aunt Irene,and Family."
carol Karstens/Sudol,
October 30th, 2013
"When we moved back to Katy in 2007 Irene insisted that we live in her house a few month while our house in Colorado sold and our house here was finished. Her gracious gift and the personal sacrifices it meant for her will always be remembered."
Paul Westervelt
September 26th, 2013
"When I was 22 Irene pressed a book into my hand by Charles Colson entitled "Born Again". God used this book to call me into his everlasting service. Praise to God for Irene's willingness to be an instrument of grace in the hand of the Father!"
Ed Nelson
September 25th, 2013
"I loved the photos! I had never seen pictures of Irene in her younger years! What a gorgeous woman. No wonder all those Sterzinger women of the next generations are beautiful."
Gail Bones
September 22nd, 2013
"I love this- about the only thing good about getting old is losing the inhibitions!"
Gail Bones
September 22nd, 2013


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