She was born Jan. 11, 1939, in Salem, Ill., daughter of Frank and Geneva Williams Forst. She and Robert "Bob" Francis were married July 11, 1959, in Salem.
Irene graduated from Salem Community High School in 1957 and attended Southern Illinois University's vo-tech program in Carbondale.
She and her family moved to Jackson in 1976 from Carbondale. She began working at Jackson Walmart in 1978, retiring from the electronics department in 2004.
She was a member of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Carbondale, and was very active as a volunteer with Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland.
Loving survivors include her husband, Bob; three sons, Robert "Rob" Francis of Poplar Bluff, Mo., Bill (Becky) Francis of Jackson, Chad Francis of Mission, Kan.; a daughter, Anna (Matt) Strong of Scopus, Mo.; her parents of Salem; a brother, Harry (Ruth) Forst of Kingwood, Texas; seven grandchildren; a great-granddaughter; and nine stepgrandchildren.
Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the chapel of McCombs Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Jackson. The rosary will be at 7, led by St. Ann's Sodality.
The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Monday at the funeral home, with Deacon Walter Biri and the Rev. Roger Kiepe officiating. Interment will be in Cook Cemetery near Scopus.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Southeast Hospice or Cook Cemetery.
Sympathy messages may be sent to the family online at www.mccombsfuneralhome.com.