MCDONALD - “We are blessed.” That was Irene Kunkel’s mantra to her troubled family as it was clear she was facing her final days. Family was everything to her. Tragedy happens, sure, but family endures.
Irene F. Kunkel, also known as “GG,” died late Saturday evening May 4, 2019, at Park Vista Retirement Community in Youngstown, not far from where she was born on Feb. 27, 1929. She died peacefully after a short illness.
Irene, who was also known as “Sis,” was the second-born to Joseph and Sadie Harryhill. She related many fond, and some not so fond, memories of a childhood in Brier Hill. She was preceded in death by four siblings; sisters Joan Kyle and Sally Kilbourne, brothers Joseph "Bud" Harryhill and "Pucky" Harryhill.
When Irene was 12, the Harryhills moved to McDonald. There, she met and later married her high school sweetheart, Bill Kunkel. Married in 1949, they created a home for their seven children. Three girls (Linda, Marilyn, and Peggy) and four boys (Bill, Dan, Tom, and John) were all products of the Kunkel family and McDonald Schools, their parents’ alma mater. Dinners were eaten together. TV time was limited and only after homework was completed. Chores were assigned. Clothes handed down. Mass was attended.
William T. Kunkel Sr., Irene’s beloved husband, was taken from her too soon in 1985. They enjoyed 36 years of marriage. Bill and Irene had already laid the foundation for their children to learn, grow and thrive responsibly. The kids (and spouses) remain grateful to this day. They are Linda M. (Phil) March, RN of Ravenna, William T. (Paula) Kunkel Jr., DDS of McDonald, Daniel T. (Mary) Kunkel, DDS of Spokane Wash., Thomas W. (Debbie) Kunkel, DPM of McDonald, Margaret M. (Dave) Bach, RN of St Petersburg Fla., and John F. (Candace) Kunkel, DPM of Youngstown.
In 2004, Irene was heartbroken again. This time, by the tragic loss of her cherished daughter, Marilyn Stonestreet, RN. Marilyn’s husband, Ed, of McDonald remained close, as a son would. “We are blessed.”
“Grandma” was so proud of her grandchildren and their accomplishments. Twenty-two grandchildren are left with the joyful and indelible memories of a grandma who hosted breakfast after Sunday Mass, sang along with their high school and college friends late into the night (“cool grandma”), and danced her butt off to "Come on Irene” [sic]. She danced up a storm at two grandson's weddings this past Fall (2018). She will be dancing with her family in spirit at another grandson’s wedding this Fall.
Grandma was again stricken with grief in 2011 at the loss of her sweet granddaughter, Julia Kunkel, in Washington State. Irene persisted with smiles through her pain and tears. “We are blessed.”
Nineteen great-grandchildren graced Irene's time on earth and two are expected this year. They will all come to know GG's love of family and creation.
She was an active member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in McDonald. She taught CCD for many years and was member of the Altar & Rosary Society. When she was able, she attended daily Mass with her friends. She worked as a postal clerk in McDonald and Mineral Ridge for close to 20 years. She was dubbed “Super Fan” by the MHS Track and Cross Country programs. Her sons and grandsons contributed to McDonald's perennial success in sports. She was also named Grand Marshall at the Village of McDonald's 2009 Homecoming Parade.
Irene’s family will be happy to share her memory with friends at Kinnick Funeral Home, 222 S. State St., Girard, where calling hours will be from 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8.
Services will begin on Thursday, May 9, at 9:15 a.m. at the funeral home, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial to be celebrated at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church at 10 a.m. Committal will be at Calvary Cemetery in Youngstown.
Memorial contributions may be made in Irene's name to the Altar & Rosary Society at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in McDonald.
“We are blessed.”
Altar & Rosary Society at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
618 Ohio Ave., McDonald OH 44437