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1935 Irene 2022

Irene Hagen Upton

July 30, 1935 — September 19, 2022

Irene Hagen Upton, 87, passed away at Centerpoint Hospital in Independence Missouri on Monday, September 19, 2022.

She was born on July 30, 1935 to Raymond and Bessie Hagen in Elk Point, South Dakota and was raised primarily in Independence Missouri. She married “the best man ever” Bobby D Upton on August 2, 1957. Through their solid, well lived and loved 65 years of life together, they had three children - Debra Sue, Jeffrey Dean and Brian Douglas.

Irene was a “minister of love and kindness” in so many ways, impacting hundreds and hundreds of others along the way. Irene was too humble to recognize her gifts and impact, but those that were impacted KNOW the truth. She was never comfortable with being in the limelight or being praised. She would probably not approve this obituary, to be honest, but her family chooses to celebrate her very bright light that she shared to so many others. More than one person, on hearing the news of her passing, has said some variation of “What a lovely lovely woman she was”. And indeed, she certainly was.

She was a Sunday school teacher and Children’s Church director at Montgall Baptist Church, Cleveland Avenue Baptist and Lane Avenue Baptist Church for 28 years- those children whose lives she touched are all parents and grandparents today. She took great care in creating visually creative rooms for the children while teaching them about God’s love. Many of them talk about their memories of those years and the love they felt from her.

Most everyone that knew Irene received a card annually - she recorded every birthday, anniversary and death on a calendar. Actually, she didn’t really need the calendar because she remembered them all - for years later. Even shortly before she passed, she was talking about birthdays that were on September 19. She always sent cards with a handwritten note, perhaps some cash, and she ALWAYS mailed them so that they arrived on the actual day of the birthday or anniversary. Anyone who received one of those cards/notes felt the love that she shared through the miles.

Many nieces and nephews still talk about her kindness in sending cards and gifts to them. They loved the letters that kept them in the loop of life in the Upton family. Decades later, they all still talk about the cards and gifts that they received from “Aunt Irene” (she was also called “Aunt Tootsie” by some) that made them feel so very loved.

Irene was a crafter at heart. Starting with the crafts and projects in her children’s ministry, she participated in church bazaars for years while her kids were still at home. After they were on their own, she started making loving felt ornaments for craft shows. She often talked about the very wonderful friends she made - fellow crafters and customers alike. She didn’t quite realize that it was her own crafting magic along with her ability to create items that made people smile and feel loved was one of her superpowers. Dozens of families in the Kansas City area have trees filled with her finely detailed felt ornaments that she’s made through the years.

She made special ornaments each year for each grandchild which was specific to some event or happening in their lives - dance, farming, love of cats, etc. Their own Christmas trees as adults are a tribute to her love as shared through her attention to detail and attention to what was going on each year, which was one of her ways of showing how much she loved each one of them for their unique selves.

Irene is survived by her husband, Bob; her children Deb Marshall, Jeff Upton (Lori) and Brian Upton (Karen); grandchildren Lucas Tillman (Abby), Marshall Upton, Lauren Lehane (Scott), Natalie Upton (Cory Robinette and first great grandchild due in December, Remi Jo Robinette), Cole Upton; brother Thomas Hagen (Linda); a host of nieces and nephews.

Those that have passed on before her include parents Raymond and Bessie Hagen; brothers Jack Hagen and Bobby Hagen; sister Marian Chellew.

A private graveside service has been planned. There will be no visitation or viewing, but a celebration of Irene’s life will be planned to allow all of the many fans of Irene - friends and loved ones - to gather in her memory and share stories of the impact she had on so many lives.

The family requests no flowers or plants. In lieu of flowers please consider making memorials to City Union Mission where Irene and her husband had been caring for those in need for many years through their monthly gifts. The address to mail memorial checks to is: City Union Mission, 1100 E. 11th Street, Kansas City, MO 64106 with your "Memorial for & Irene's name in the MEMO part of the check.

Credit Card Memorial Gifts can be made on City Union Mission's website, cityunionmission.org. They would click the Donate Now button, Click on amount, Select Fund, Memorial/Honorarium and that they put Irene's name in the comment section.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Irene Hagen Upton, please visit our flower store.

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