Irene (Melba) Luther


Irene (Melba) Luther

Irene (Melba) Luther died peacefully on Dec. 21, 2017, surrounded by her children.

Irene was born in Deerfield, Mo., on May 28, 1927, the oldest of twin girls, to Jay and Thelma Klontz.

She was also the oldest of five children, four sisters and a brother. She was raised and educated in Deerfield and later in Nevada, Mo.

On Jan. 13, 1944, she married Claude “C.A.” Luther. Shortly thereafter, they moved to the northwest, where they began farming and raising a family of six children.

In 1955, the family purchased a grape farm on Independence Road, which they farmed until 1981. The farm is still in the family being farmed by their son, grandson and great-grandson.

When C.A. was on the road trucking, Irene held down the farm and raised the kids, and she spent many hours pruning and tying grapes and running the family asparagus crew. She enjoyed sewing and made clothing for her daughters including their formals and a wedding dress.

She was also a self-taught musician who played the piano by ear.

Irene was a nearly lifelong resident of Sunnyside and was very active in the United Methodist Church and in her community.

Over her life, she was involved in various groups and organizations, including 4-H, TOPS, Outlook Booster Club, Roza Dust Dodgers, Horizon Quilters, United Methodist Women, P.E.O. and the choir at church. She ran the kitchen at church like it was her own.

She was a strong, independent woman who was fiercely loyal to her family. After selling the family farm to their son, C.A. and Irene moved to Sunnyside and spent several years fishing and traveling in their motorhome. When she no longer had kids at home to sew for, she became an avid quilter.

She made a quilt for each of her children and grandchildren, plus quilts for Wounded Warriors.

She also donated quilts to hospitals and foster children. This past May, she was excited to reach her 90th birthday and celebrated with a big party surrounded by family and friends.

Irene is survived by siblings Leonard Klontz of Brownsville, TX, and LaDene Bley of Moundville, MO, and by her children,

Phil Luther (Patsy) of Kennewick, Claudia Randle (Rod) of Lacey, Mel Luther (Diane) of Sunnyside, Gini Sodeman (Harry) of Anacortes, Sherri Graff (Tim) of Spokane, and Janet Schilperoort of Palouse.

She is also survived by numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, her twin sister Ilene Cole and sister Helen Kutina, and by her son-in-law Mark Schilperoort.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 29, at Sunnyside United Methodist Church.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Sunnyside United Methodist Church, 906 E. Edison Ave. Sunnyside, WA 98944.


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