Irene Tweito

Irene L. Tweito, 90, of Waukon died Monday, June 28, 2021 at Taylor House Hospice in Des Moines after being hospitalized at Iowa Methodist/Unity Point Medical Center, also in Des Moines. Funeral services were held Saturday, July 3 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Waukon with Pastor Bryan Robertson officiating. Burial was at Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Spring Grove, MN.

The service was live streamed and can still be viewed on Martin-Grau Funeral Home’s Facebook page. Martin-Grau Funeral Home in Waukon assisted the family with arrangements.

Memorials may be directed to St. John’s Lutheran Church, VMH Foundation or Allamakee Scholarship Fund, all in Waukon, or IPTV to support Lawrence Welk broadcasts, ABLE in Caledonia, MN, or other non-profits which you may care to support.

Irene L. Tweito was born September 19, 1930 in Yucatan Township, Houston County, MN, the sixth of seven children of Peter Oliver and Clara Sofia (Ness) Gaustad. She grew up on the family farm near Houston, MN and graduated from Houston High School in 1948. Irene earned her teaching certificate from Winona State Teachers College, after which she began her beloved teaching career at the Stone School, a one-room schoolhouse near Houston, MN.

August 14, 1953, she married Ellsworth “Al” Tweito at Houston Lutheran Church and they welcomed four children: Sharon (Jon Craig) Aldrich of League City, TX, Gary (Michelle) Tweito of Spring Grove, MN, Anne (Daniel) Reisen of Iowa City and Sandra (Thomas) Bloxham of Ankeny. Early on they farmed near Spring Grove, MN and Farmersburg and then made the move to Waukon in 1960.

Once in Waukon, Al began his career with Meadow Land Dairy and Irene joined the Allamakee School District and, while working a full-time job teaching first graders, raised four children and earned her bachelor’s degree by correspondence, summer sessions and lots of driving to Winona, graduating in 1971 from Winona State University.

Al and Irene joined St. John’s Lutheran Church in Waukon, where she served in the ladies’ circles, altar guild, church suppers, quilting activities and various committees. In the 1970s, Irene was very active in the Dairy Day parades and banquets. She loved music, sewing and baking every week. Her culinary skills included Norwegian specialties like lefse and flatbread and the best apple pies with sweet delicate crusts. She enjoyed coffee lunches, homemade bread, cinnamon rolls, homemade apple and rhubarb sauce, strawberry jam, fresh fruit pies, any desserts with chocolate, cookies and butter pecan ice cream.

Irene enjoyed animals, having many cats, guppies and family dogs over the years, and was especially fond of Digger, Spike and Flynn. Summertime often found her traveling to visit family and friends, using the clothesline to dry laundry, going shopping, having breakfast after Sunday services at S&D Cafe with dear friends or blueberry pancakes at West End, enjoying the county fair - especially the exhibits and riding the Ferris wheel, parades, festivals, spending time working in the vegetable garden, picking strawberries and growing flowers, especially pink roses.
Irene loved watching Wheel of Fortune, Lawrence Welk, Iowa Hawkeye and Iowa State Cyclone sports, especially basketball tournaments, and activities with her kids and grandkids. She published her memoir “Yucatan and Beyond” in 2010, which her family treasures. Irene never met a stranger and was a kind and delightful hostess who enjoyed reading daily and listening to big band music.

Phone calls and exchanging greeting cards by mail with extended family and friends were especially meaningful. Irene’s uniquely caring demeanor along with incredible teaching abilities assisted so many over the years that friends, colleagues and her family agree she loved well and was well loved.

Irene always appreciated those who worked with her at school and church fellowship members, many of whom became great friends. The family wishes to express gratitude for her dear friends, Wendell and Verna Watts, and the blessing of good neighbors John and Sheryl Prestemon and Dennis Schulte, who have shown her so much kindness over many years.

Irene was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Al, in 1997; her siblings: sister Alida Laschenski, brothers Sidney, Cyrus, Neil and Clifton Gaustad, and their spouses; her brother-in-law, Jim; her father- and mother-in-law, Nels and Anna Tweito; a granddaughter, Vanna Tweito; a great-grandson, A.J. Strzelecki; and several nieces and nephews.

In addition to her children, Irene is survived by her sister, Olive Ann Cauthen of California; two sisters-in-law, Barbara Tweito of New Hampshire and Anstes Anderson of Toronto, Ontario; several beloved nieces and nephews: Linda, Barb, Kari, Crystal, Karen, Christine, Richard, Julie, Jeff, Laura, Scott and Shawna; her grandchildren: Rachel (Jeff), Aaron, Philip (Jessica), Timothy, Benjamin, Tiffany (Pete), Samantha (Peter), Rodney, Jacob and Nicole; her great-grandchildren: Kayla (Justin), Kara, Dallas, Ayla, Nolan, Sophia, Chandler, Garrett, Isaac, Lily, Lucy and Logan; and several great-nieces, great-nephews and cousins.

Honorary casketbearers were those special first grade students now grown. Ushers and casketbearers were present at the church.

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