Irene Zieske, age 93, of Manteno, IL, died Saturday, March 21, 2009, at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Manteno.
Irene was a cousin to longtime builders and Delano residents, Fred Zieske and Richard Zieske. Fred now lives in Loretto.
One of only 500 female, WWII combat nurses, Irene, as a lieutenant, landed at Utah Beach with Patton’s 1st Division, 3rd Army and served in a field hospital on the front lines through France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, finally ending her European service caring for the survivors of the Holocaust concentration camp at Mauthausen, Germany.
Her accomplishments were all the more remarkable considering her small town roots in Albany, MN, where, having lost her father at age 10, she went on to become valedictorian of her high school class.
Unable to accept a college scholarship due to lack of adequate, personal funds, she paid her own way through St. Mary’s School of Nursing in Minneapolis, and subsequently volunteered for WWII Army duty, insisting on combat nurse assignment despite poor eyesight.
After returning to civilian nursing, Irene reentered the Army Nurse Corp during the Korean War, and afterward, went on to a distinguished peacetime military career, winning many commendations and awards for her untiring medical service throughout the world, including subsequent assignments in Japan, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Missouri, and California.
She is survived by her brother, Raymond Zieske of Moorestown, NJ; nephew Randolph (Pat) Zieske of Rolling Meadows, IL; and other relatives and friends.
Irene was preceded in death by her parents, Charles William Zieske and Helen (Spaeth) Zieske; and by her sister-in-law, Ann Zieske.
Internment was at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Joliet, IL.
Funeral arrangements were handled by Clancy-Gernon Funeral Homes in Bourbonnais, IL.