Irene Evelyn Schrag, 96, passed away on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021 at Greencroft Healthcare in Goshen, Ind. from complications of COVID-19. She was born Dec. 12, 1924 in rural Hurley, S.D., to Adolph and Nettie (Wittrig) Preheim. In her youth she was baptized and became a member of Salem Mennonite Church in Freeman, S.D. She then transferred her membership to Salem-Zion Mennonite Church in Freeman upon her marriage to Harley Schrag on May 29, 1946. She remained a member of her beloved church community until her death.
Irene graduated from Freeman Academy and completed her teaching certificate at Freeman Jr. College. Her teaching career in rural one-room schools was the beginning of a life-long love for caring for and nurturing children. After her marriage to Harley, they farmed in east Freeman and raised five children. After Harley’s death in 1992, she retired from farming and moved to Freeman, where she lived until 2016 when she moved to Goshen to be near family.
Irene shared her gifts with her family and community. She was an expert quilter. Her beautiful quilts and embroidery pieces grace many homes. She continued to use her gifts for teaching in the children’s Sunday school department at Salem-Zion and enjoyed caring for children in many settings. In addition to her church, she volunteered at Schmeckfest, the Et Cetera Shoppe, and with the Freeman Academy Auxiliary.
Irene’s family will remember her as a loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, teacher and hard-working farmer. But mostly she will be remembered for her example of living with an open heart and open hands, her gift of hospitality, and how her home was always open to hosting friends and relatives for a meal or a week.
She is survived by four daughters: Jean Lauver (Hesston), Charlotte Sprunger and Rose Schrag, all of Goshen, Indiana, and Eloise Schrag of Rochester, N.Y.; seven grandchildren: Jason Lauver (Jamie), Anne Schrag (Miriam), Carl Lehmann (Paloma), Caroline Schrag, Kenda Sprunger, Austin Sprunger and Jess Sprunger; two great-grandsons, Hugh and Graham Lauver; her sister, Marilyn Rose of Iowa City, Iowa; and nieces and nephews.
Along with her parents and her husband, Harley, she was preceded in death by her son, Norman Schrag; sisters and brothers-in-law, Earl Rose, Evelyn and Edgar Miller, Vera and Erwin Schrag; nephew, Forrest Rose, and niece, Anita Neufeld.
A memorial service will take place later this year at Salem-Zion Mennonite Church in Freeman. Memorial gifts may be given to Mennonite Central Committee or Salem-Zion Mennonite Church.