Patriotism was her thing…
Thank you for attending the benefit today in loving memory of Irene McKee. More than anything, Irene loved her family, friends, Veterans, country, and God.
Many believe that if they were to hold out their hands and count the finest people who were involved in the VFW since the early 1970’s, Irene and her husband, Virgil, would be included with that group.
The Auxiliary doesn’t have very detailed records, but we do know that Irene served as Auxiliary President for at least two terms—both of which while she was in her 70’s! Throughout her years as a member of the VFW, Irene held many officer and committee positions. She spent numerous hours at schools teaching flag etiquette to children, and she held offices with the American Legion. One of her greatest passions was developing young leaders through the Girl’s State Program. She was the conduit between the Legion and the Republican Women’s Club.
Irene was named 2002–2003 “Patriotic Instructor of the Year” for the entire state of Texas! This is quite the accomplishment, given that she was in her 70’s at the time. There is a plaque in Freedom Hall honoring her achievement.
When Irene was president, she begged for cooks for the Wednesday night dinners, and she herself cooked at least once or twice every month. The proceeds from the dinners brought direct revenue to the Ladies Auxiliary. Many members looked forward to her meals, as they often said she made the very best stir fry in the world. She was also known to make
incredible desserts, all healthy and delicious! Even as her health deteriorated, Irene was there to bake a cake for the cake walks, cookies for the hospitalized vets, help with benefits, and attend planning and Auxiliary meetings. She hated to miss a meeting.
Irene was a beautiful woman with such a joyful and giving soul. She worked as a volunteer at the Bonham VA Hospital, and she even had the pink jacket to identify herself as such. She gave personal attention to anyone who needed assistance at anytime.
One of our favorite stories involves the second picture. At least once a year, the Veteran’s from the Bonham VA come to our Post for what is called “Patient’s Day Out.” Irene always supported this. On this occasion, she spent a lot of time with one particular Veteran who kept inviting her to come home with him. As the day progressed, she became tired and went home to take a nap, assuring her new-found friend that she would be back before he left.
Fortunately, she did return just before the Veterans went back to Bonham. The Veteran (who’s holding Irene’s hand in the picture) wasn’t going to leave until he got to say goodbye to his “girlfriend.” Irene was so gracious and understanding, and this picture was taken just as she arrived to say good-bye to her “boyfriend” for the day.
Members of the Post can vividly remember Irene and Past Commander Jack Atherton’s POW/MIA program in which they recited a piece entitled, “Remember.” It was quite powerful, and while several have heard it many times after that, never with the impact of hearing her and Jack narrate it.
Patriotism was her thing, but she also had a great sense of humor. She would often sing at Auxiliary meetings about her aches and pains to the tune of “These are a Few of My Favorite Things.” In addition, she was an avid shuffleboard player and had the trophies to prove it.
Again, we thank you for sharing this day and we know how proud she must be that this event is named after her:
The Irene McKee Labor of Love Benefitting Soldiers in Need.
Lake Texoma VFW Post 7873, Ladies Auxiliary to the VFW,
Friends and Family of Irene McKee