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Irene M. Wilton

1918 - 2008, Santa Barbara

Irene M. Wilton
January 14, 1918 - June 3, 2008

On Thursday, May 29, Irene was using the crosswalk on Foothill Rd. at Cieneguitas Rd. to go dog walking with a dear friend. While crossing the street she was struck by a car. She died on Tuesday, June 3, with her children Wendy Bronson and Mike Wilton and niece Marlene Minah Perizzo and John Perizzo by her side. The intervening days allowed close friends Sharon Reinesto, Margaret Brown, Roberta Kramer and sister-in-law Kathy Minikin to say goodbye.

Irene was born January 14, 1918 in Kirkby-in-Furness, Lancashire, England. At age nine, Irene , sister Evelyn, brother Bill, and mother Mabel were finally able to join their father William Minikin four years after he emigrated to the United States. Mr. Minikin opened Minikin Cabinet Shop, still in operaton as Starbuck-Minikin. She maintained close ties to her English relatives, especially cousin Edith Farrish and her family.

Irene and life long friend Jeanne Pond both entered La Cumbre Junior High School at age ten, graduated from Santa Barbara High School in 1934, and then from Santa Barbara State College. Meeting on the Riviera campus, she and Wilton M. Wilton married in 1940. Irene began her 32 year teaching career with two years at Lompoc Union High School and Dr. Wilton became the UCSB MenÃs Basketball coach. Irene taught home economics at SBHS and SBJH and became a counselor at La Colina Junior High after receiving an MA in guidance counseling from UCSB.

In her retirement, Irene worked a H & R Block during tax season, and in the off months kept a full schedule of volunteer work, traveling and camping . This year she did educational testing for the State of California. She was planning a trip to India to see the Taj Majal, the last major world attraction she wished to see. Previous trips had been throughout Europe, Mexico, South and Central America, Africa, the Middle East, China, Russia,Thailand and the US and Canada. An outdoor enthusiast, Irene was a member of the Sierra Club, enjoying group trips to Joshua Tree, Anza Borrego, hiking into the Grand Canyon,and rafting the Colorado river. There were many excursions into Los Padres National Forest, and Fishbowls camp was a highlight. She backpacked throughout the Sierra Nevada, submitting Mt. Whitney at age 66, and continued to day hike locally to Camino Cielo well into her eighties.

This year Irene was corresponding secretary of the local division of the California Retired Teachers Association and had been recently elected Chairwoman of the Womens Club Ways and Means Committee. Ongoing activities included volunteering at Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic, charter membership at Trinity Baptist Church, occasional child care employment for ChildTime, and Adult Education exercise classes 5 times a week. She volunteered at the Republican Party Headquarters and was scheduled to assist with elections on June 3.

Surviving are her son Michael Wilton (Kuulei )of Honolulu, Hawaii, and her daughter Wendy Bronson (Donald Davis) of Summerland. Her five grandchildren and their families are: Jennifer Wilton-Cabbab, (Harold, children Taylor and Jayden); Aaron Wilton, (Maaya, children Aanya and Aayla), Michael Wilton,(Tracie, children Maddox and Declan); Eva Wilton-Thiim, (Kanai, children Kailani and Keoni); and Melissa Wilton (child Leah). Not to be forgotten are her beloved dogs and granddogs, Paddy 1 and Paddy 2, Cha-Cha, Baron, Wally, Shandy, Mokie, Chloe and Toto.

This year, on January 14th, Irene hosted her ninetieth birthday celebration and family reunion. Her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and other family members from California, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, DC and England were in attendance. For this special event all are grateful.

There will be a reception for Irene on Tuesday, July 1 at the WomenÃs Club of Santa Barbara from 2-4pm. 670 Mission Canyon Rd.

Contributions in her name may be made to the Santa Barbara Humane Society, 5399 Overpass Rd. Santa Barbara, CA 93111

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