Mildred Irene, born 17 February 1921 in Amisk, Alberta, was the 11th girl in a family
Her father was George Wallsten who immigrated from Sweden to North Dakota in
the United States in 1891 and eventually to Alberta in 1906. In 1909 he brought his
wife, Christina, and three young daughters from North Dakota and settled in Amisk,
Alberta. Our Auntie Irene was named by her older sisters, Alma and Esther. In their
minds, there was no way there was ;going to be another girl with names ending in
a “a”. In the family, there already was an Anna Wilhelmina, Tilda Carolina, Alma
Louisa, Esther Christina, Paulina Josephina, Amanda Olivia and Ruth Georgina!
Emma, Sophia and Ellena all died in infancy. The one single brother was named
Gustav Adolph after the then reigning King of Sweden! When Grandma Wallsten
died in 1939, Irene moved to Edmonton to fi nish her High School and enter Teacher’s
College. She lived with her sister, Alma, during this time. Irene’s teaching career saw
her in many different schools. They were:
–Tomahawk, AB for a year
–St. Michael’s, AB for a year
–a school east of Edmonton for two years
–then to Fort St. James where she taught for fi ve years
While in the Fort, she often related stories of having to “de-louse” every child in her
class every morning before she would even let them enter the classroom!
Irene married Roy Spencer in 1947 and had twin boys, Brian and Byron, in 1949.
Brian went on to gain fame as an NHL hockey player, known as “Spinner Spencer”.
During her time in the Fort, Irene also spent many years working for the Hudson’s
Bay Co. In 1970, Roy lost his life in a shooting incident in Prince George. Irene then
moved to Whitehorse for a few years before coming back to the Fort to manage the
gravel pit on the Spencer Farm. Eventually she sold the farm and moved to Cranbrook,
BC where she worked as a secretary. She met and married Bill Morris and
shared with him a home on a beautiful lake lot. When Bill developed skin cancer,
they moved to Sydney, BC for a couple of years before moving to Shawnigan Lake
where Bill died in 1997. Irene continued to live in her trailer where she kept active
with gardening and bridge. When she became legally blind she moved into assisted
living in Duncan, She died on March 9, 2006. She was predeceased also by both her
sons, Brian in 1988 and Byron in 2004.
Irene had a passion for family, fl owers and bridge –not sure which came fi rst! She
was always the favorite baby sister of her siblings, including brother Adolph. Her
life journey was full of tragic events which defi nitely took a toll on her health and
travels through life. It was always a joy to visit and converse with Irene, as she had
a cute, infectious laugh that made anyone present smile and just plain “feel good”!
As Amanda, her one remaining sister still living says, Irene was always a welcomed
A memorial service of remembrance and burial was held at Fort St. James on May 20,
2010 with about 15 – 20 members of her extended family in attendance. May Irene
Spencer rest in peace in this beautiful corner of British Columbia.