Cover photo for Irene H. Taras's Obituary
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1929 Irene 2021

Irene H. Taras

December 1, 1929 — July 27, 2021

Mrs. Irene H. (Petrowicz) Taras, of Waltham, passed July 27th in her home surrounded by her daughter J. Chrisann, her son-in-law Jerome Nocera, her niece and goddaughter Judith Hallisey, and her beloved grandog Henry. She was born December 1, 1929, the youngest of three children, to Zigmund and Helen (Novak) Petrowicz of Cambridge.

Irene recalled numerous fond memories of her early childhood but at eight years old her parents divorced. This began a difficult and trying period that would shape her into a resilient woman. Irene's Polish immigrant mother Helen had entrepreneurial instincts and opened a small grocer to support her family. It was the late 1930's and the country was still reeling from the Great Depression. The family struggled financially but somehow Helen always managed to have food on the table.

Irene graduated from Cambridge Latin School. She met her future husband the late Edward P. Taras at the Polish club in Chelsea. She loved to dance. Laughingly, Irene told the story that she really didn't like him but he knew how to do the Chelsea Hop. She said "yes" when he asked her to dance. Their relationship blossomed and they married on September 10, 1950.

As a young married woman Irene and Edward spent much of their free time with her sister Laura, her brother Michael and their children. She was renamed "Argie" by her nieces and nephews because they could not pronounce Irene. The nick name stuck for the remainder of her life.

Always ambitious, Irene attained a secretarial job at Standard Oil. Over her 12 years at the company, she worked her way up to running the office. At the same time, she supported her husband who was attending engineering school nights at Wentworth. Although Ed's math skills were excellent his composition abilities were lacking. Irene wrote all his papers and helped him prepare for all of his tests. Edward was smart enough to know that he could not have done it without her. He often reflected on those days with great affection when talking to his daughter.

The couple was married for many years before welcoming their only daughter, Chrisann. Driven by her unstable childhood Irene vowed to provide a stable one for her own daughter. Irene was an exceptional mother and more than delivered on her promise. Her daughter lovingly dubbed her a "Tiger Mother" long before any books were written with that title.

Irene was a voracious reader. She always had a book in hand and read hundreds of autobiographies, biographies, histories, and all "The Classics". She acquired a vast knowledge base and could hold thoughtful and interesting conversations with the most highly educated. Irene was religious but was always questioning and pushing the boundaries while staying engaged with her Catholic faith. At her home in Westwood, she nurtured a love for gardening and landscaping. Irene was often seen trimming hedges and cutting the lawn while her husband was golfing across the street. She had a stunning rose garden.

A lover of animals and nature, she had numerous cats and dogs throughout her life. She loved them all but was especially captured by her daughters' English Bull Terriers. Hayden, Henry and Pandora were her great joys during the past 15 years.

In her later years national politics became a passion. She was a proud Democrat. She often proclaimed that she needed to live to see Donald Trump lose the presidency. Irene did not enjoy drinking alcohol but did happily split a bottle of champagne with her daughter on November 7, 2020.

Irene H. Taras was a beautiful, kind, classy, highly intelligent, loyal and devoted wife and mother. Her memory will be held close in the hearts of her family and all who knew her well. A celebration of her life is being planned for the fall. Donations in her honor can be made to MSPCA Angel, 350 S. Huntington Ave., Boston, MA, 02130 and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Tribute # 2253-3346, PO Box 1000, Dept 142, Memphis, TN, 38148-0142
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