Irene Elliott Rickert passed away on August 7, 2019, at age 94. She was preceded in death by her brother Eugene (Shirley), daughter Carol Lynn, and husband of 68 years, Dr. Russell K. Rickert. She is survived by children Noel Grant of Lambertville, NJ; Merryl Lee (Ronald) Grosso of Landisburg, PA; Russell Kenneth (Robin), Jr. of West Chester, PA; 11 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren.
Born in Hammonton, NJ, to Raymond and Florence Elliott, Irene grew up in the heart of the Garden State, picked blueberries for summer employment, enjoyed day trips to the beach in Ocean City, NJ, and sang in the choir at Hammonton Baptist Church. She attended and received her B.Ed. at Glassboro State College, and waitressed in Atlantic City during the summers. She returned to Hammonton to teach in the local school district. She met Russell Rickert when he visited his sister Virginia Ruark whose husband Ernie was pastor at Hammonton Baptist. They corresponded during his WW2 tour of duty in France and Germany, 1944-1946, and married on June 11, 1949.
In the 1950s, Russ and Irene lived in Seaford, Delaware, and Centerville, Maryland, both employed as teachers. In 1953 and 1955, they welcomed their first two children, Noel and Merryl, to their family.
Russ accepted the position of Professor of Physics at his alma mater, West Chester State Teachers College (WCU) in 1956, and the family moved to West Chester. In February 1962, they welcomed a second daughter, Carol Lynn, to their family. In August 1963, while Irene was pregnant with their fourth child, she and Russ lost 18-month-old Carol Lynn to leukemia. Russell Jr. was born a month later.
Irene was engaged in the activities of her family, joining them in waterskiing, salt-water fishing, bicycle riding, canoeing, hiking, and trips to the Jersey Shore.
After her children were all school-age, Irene pursued and received her M.Ed. from West Chester State College in 1973. She taught Remedial Reading at Exton Elementary, and English and Reading at Fugett Middle School until she retired in 1986.
She enjoyed sewing clothing for her immediate and extended family, costumes for G&S Society’s yearly productions, and blankets for Spanish Health Ministry and orphanages in Central America. For years she was a member of the Chester County Hospital Women’s Auxiliary and the Magic Needles sewing club at Westminster Presbyterian Church. She also volunteered at the Westminster Thrift Shop. She and her husband were both prominent members of the West Chester Lions’ Club, and they traveled extensively, together and with groups, to Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and the Middle East. She sang in numerous choirs, including both Goshen Baptist and Westminster Presbyterian Church choirs, The Greenleigh Chorale, The 49ers, Shorty Yeaworth’s choirs, and The West Chester Gilbert & Sullivan Society.
Irene had a heart for giving; it was her love language. She and her husband supported missionaries both here and abroad, and if she couldn’t physically help children in need, she supported them monetarily all over the world.
After the passing of her devoted husband on March 2, 2018, Irene spent the final 15 months of her life in the loving care of The Hickman Darlington Neighborhood. Her family visited her often and came to love the staff and other residents of The Hickman’s memory care community.
The family warmly invites all to a visitation with the family at Goshen Baptist Church, 1451 West Chester Pike, at 10 am on Thursday, August 15, followed by the memorial service at 11 am, and luncheon at 12:30 pm.
A private interment at Hilltown Baptist Church Cemetery will be held the following day.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to either The Hickman Darlington Neighborhood Staff Gratuity Fund, 400 N. Walnut St. West Chester, PA, 19380 or Spanish Health Ministry, Inc., 205 East State Street, Kennett Square, PA 19348
400 N. Walnut St., West Chester PA 19380
Spanish Health Ministry, Inc.
205 East State Street, Kennett Square PA 19348