Irene Ruth Roper Coulter


Irene Coulter

Irene Coulter

Irene Ruth Roper Coulter of Olathe, Kansas, went to be with her Lord on June 28, 2015, ten days after celebrating her 100th birthday. She will be remembered as a committed follower of Christ, devoted wife and mother, faithful friend, a loyal member of the Church of the Nazarene, consummate hostess, and strong encourager to many.

On June 18, 1915, as the world reflected upon the 100th anniversary of a significant military battle: the defeat of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo; a young couple, Elmer and Goldie Bell Roper of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, faced the future as they greeted their firstborn, a twelve pound baby girl they named Irene. A son and two more daughters followed. When Irene was two, the family moved to Edmonton, Alberta where her father opened a printing company. A successful businessman, her father was also a respected public servant, serving in the Alberta provincial government and as Mayor of Edmonton.

Life in Edmonton centered on faith, family, education, music and athletics. The family attended the Edmonton Church of the Nazarene. Irene was a third generation Nazarene. Summers were spent swimming, sailing, and playing tennis. Irene was a semi-finalist in a citywide tennis tournament. She pitched for the high school baseball team. Her favorite past time was ice skating. She played piano and organ, riding a streetcar across town to her lessons.

Irene was the editor of her high school newspaper. As editor, she was required to go door-to-door to local businesses selling advertisements. She never had a business say no. Academically, she excelled to the point of skipping a grade and then attending a year of commercial high school before going to college. Her favorite subject was geometry. Gifted in math, her high school teacher urged her to go into a new field of opportunity for women. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics in 1936 from the University of Alberta with plans to become a Certified Public Accountant. Her father, serving on the Board of Regents for the University, was permitted to personally hand his daughter her diploma.

It has been stated, if something was printed on paper in Alberta, the printing was likely done by Commercial Printers Ltd. So it is no surprise that Irene worked at her father’s company during high school and college, first as a proofreader of telephone books and later as a payroll clerk.

In the spring of 1934, Irene’s best friend Lois Cameron, asked her to come to Nampa, Idaho, for commencement weekend at Northwest Nazarene College. A Canadian pastor going there to see his children was seeking riders to defray costs. Another rider, a young bachelor pastor going to visit his girlfriend, also came along and helped with the driving. It was on that trip, listening and looking at Irene through the rear view mirror, that George Coulter fell in love. When arriving in Nampa, George broke up with his girlfriend, then he and Irene spent that weekend getting to know each other. Irene and Lois married brothers and became sisters-in-law.

Within a four-week time span in the spring of 1936, Irene graduated from college, turned 21, married George, and hopped on a train for a two-day trip/honeymoon to Denair, California, their first pastorate together.

George and Irene pastored churches in Denair and Stockton, California, and Medford, Oregon. Then, in their mid to late thirties, they were called to serve as District Superintendent of the Northern California District. With their two children, Colleen (born in 1941) and Gary (born in 1944), they moved to the district campground in Santa Cruz to serve 150 churches in a 1000 mile territory with a staff of one: George, and a manual typewriter. While George considered the pastors his parish, Irene became an encourager, mentor, and teacher to the spouses of pastors. It was a role she loved. Her British-Canadian upbringing came into play as a gracious and proper hostess. The table was set and always included serving pieces. Her attention to detail included keeping a record of guests as well as what she served them. Her niece and namesake, Carol Irene, continues this practice.

In 1960, when George was elected Executive Secretary of World Missions by the Church of the Nazarene International, the Coulters moved to Kansas City. In 1964, George was elected to the position of General Superintendent. Once a year, Irene joined George in his travels on behalf of the church, visiting over 48 countries. They were charter members of the Overland Park Church of the Nazarene. Irene lovingly cared for George until his death in 1995. She later moved to Olathe, Kansas and became a part of College Church of the Nazarene, where she started a weekly breakfast group for widows. She lived a vital and independent life until a fall in March of 2015, at which time she moved to Aberdeen Village in Olathe.

Irene was preceded in death by her parents; husband; sister, Gwendolyn Roper; brother, Lyall Roper; sister, Frances Kettelhut; daughter, Colleen Tippitt; and daughter-in-law, Terri Coulter. She is survived by her son, Gary (Phyllis) Coulter of Overland Park, KS; and son-in-law, Kenneth Tippitt of Sun City, AZ; four grandchildren, Brian (Stephanie) Tippitt of Nipomo, CA; Randy (Amy) Tippitt of Bakersfield, CA; Sherri Dean of Shawnee, KS; Christopher Dean of Shawnee, KS; Derek (Rhonda) Coulter of Harrisonville, MO. She is also survived by 10 great grandchildren, several cousins, nieces and nephews, and a host of beloved friends.

Memorial contributions may be given tothe Rev Thomas Bell Memorial Scholarship, Ambrose University,150 Ambrose Circle SW, Calgary, AB T3H0L5

Arr. Penwell-Gabel Funeral Home and Crematory


To follow the service

Monday, July 13, 2015 ~ 1:00 PM
College Church of the Nazarene, 2020 E. Sheridan, Olathe, Kansas

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