Zola Irwin, 93

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Zola Faye (Kauffman) Irwin, daughter of Joseph and Agnes (Andrews) Kauffman, was born August 4, 1928 in rural Cheraw, Colorado, and passed from this life in Beloit, Kansas, on May 30, 2022 at the age of 93. Zola was the youngest and the last survivor of nine children, six brothers, and two sisters. By her telling, she was a favorite especially of the older boys, and was protected and a bit spoiled. In 1935 her father and her oldest brother Enos both died, one of the hardest events of her family's life and one she talked about throughout her life.
Zola attended grade and high school in Cheraw. She was a popular girl with her schoolmates and had many friends in the community and the local Mennonite church her family attended. She graduated in 1946 in a class of 13 members. She attended Brown Business College in LaJunta, Colorado, where she and her mother then resided. She worked in a doctor's office there.
She was married to her high school sweetheart, Paul Irwin, after his return from two years in the U.S. Navy. The wedding took place in the home of her brother Alvin and the officiating pastor was her brother Jess. Her dress was made by her and her mother with silk that Paul brought home from his time in Japan after WWII.
The couple started out in Denver, where Paul attended college and Zola worked for another doctor. They soon moved to Hesston, Kansas, where he attended college. Over the next ten years they lived in three other small communities in southern Kansas, where he was a student pastor.
They had five children over six years, Lloyd, Agnes, Naomi, Greta, and Esther.
Zola served her family by managing their care while Paul finished seminary. Paul said she served well as a pastor's wife and assisted in church duties while he was away during the week at school. She was an excellent seamstress and made most clothes for the four girls, including elaborate matching Easter dresses each year.
As the children became teenagers, Zola worked in the school superintendent's office and the high school library. When they moved to Wichita in 1972, she worked in an insurance office. A few years later when they retired early from the ministry, they set up a business in Hays, and she also worked in the college library. She enjoyed working at libraries as she was a voracious reader. During those years, she brought her mother, Agnes Kauffman, to live with them, caring for her as she aged. They returned to the ministry as their daughter Naomi and her family took over the business. After their retirement in 1993, Zola and Paul traveled at a leisurely pace across most of the USA and parts of Canada while living in their fifth wheel camper they fondly called the "Cramalot Inn". They visited family and friends and saw the sights of the USA for three years. They moved to Argonia, Kansas, and enjoyed longtime friends until moving to Fort Morgan, Colorado, for 13 years. Tragically, their daughter Naomi Isom died in a car accident in 2003. Ten years later, they were invited to live with their daughter Greta in Beloit, Kansas, and stayed there until Paul died in 2021, followed by Zola a year later. They were lovingly cared for by Greta and grandson Cas Davis at the home.
Family was Zola's life work, both immediate, extended, and church families. She called people on their birthdays, and played with and enjoyed her grandchildren. There were huge holiday gatherings with siblings' families, delicious food, and graceful conversation. She told stories of her childhood that were rich in detail and nuance, so we felt that she understood how she lived and loved. Her circle of longtime friends was large. Yet on her 93rd birthday, she had a party with a dozen other "old" ladies that she had met since moving to Beloit. Many people we contacted after her death, as well as greeting cards we read noted how special she was. Her children agree wholeheartedly; we remember so many things she taught us and did for and with us.
She was preceded in death by her daughter, Naomi, and her husband of 73 years, Paul. She is survived by children, Lloyd (Darlene), Agnes (Charles), Greta, and Esther (Terry); eight grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren; and three great-great-grandchildren.
Memorial services will be at 11 AM Wednesday, June 22, at the Beloit First United Methodist Church.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Solomon Valley Hospice or the Church.
Roberts Family Funeral Service is in charge of arrangements.
Condolences may be left at www.robertsfamilyfs.com

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Beloit, KS 67420, USA