- February 5, 2023
Irene Nicholson Dunbar of Iowa City died January 25, 2023, after a brief illness. A private gathering for her immediate family was held at Gay and Ciha Funeral Home the evening of January 28.
Irene was born in Syracuse, NY, on March 16, 1929, daughter of Howard and Gertrude Nicholson, and she grew up there. She married George Franklyn Dunbar, Jr., on December 23, 1950, and was the proud mother of three sons.
Known for her keen mind and strong but gentle spirit, Irene was an English teacher at Greece Athena High School in NY. Although teaching came to her naturally, it didn’t come quickly as she left Vassar College early to marry and raise a family. After many years of caring for her family’s needs, she taught her teenage sons to cook and returned to college. She received BA and MA degrees from the State University of NY College at Fredonia, after which she simultaneously began teaching and doctoral study at the University of Rochester, earning a PhD in English in 1986. Irene was an avid gardener her entire life and especially so in retirement. Her immaculate yard was always in bloom during the summer months, and in the depths of winter her house was full of seedlings for planting in the spring.
Irene is survived by her sons Peter and Stephen (Sally Hartman) of Iowa City, and Christopher (Terry) of Anthem, AZ; grandchildren Elizabeth (Albert Rovira), Christopher, and Nicholas; great grandchildren Jordi and Angelina Irene; and several nieces, nephews, and cousins. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Frank of 56 years, and her sisters Betty and Barbara.
Irene’s inner strength brought her family and friends years of happiness, and her caregiving to Frank after his major stroke showed her own loved ones a deeper meaning in life. Memorial donations may be directed to the Johnson County Master Gardeners of
Iowa (Hospice Gardens) and online condolences to www.gayandciha.com.