In Memory of





Obituary for Irene Julia Gill (Mickelson)

Irene Julia Gill, née Mickelson, age 94, of Marlton, passed away on December 2, 2023.

Irene was a groundbreaking scientist, blazing a path for the women who came after her. She was a woman of profound faith who gave back to her community everywhere she lived. Loving and beloved in return, Irene was armed with a droll sense of humor and an innate openness which led to meaningful lifelong relationships. Irene could be competitive, relishing in a wide variety of outdoor sports and an addiction to Words With Friends later in life. She loved animals, her many pets, and making everyone who visited her feel instantly at home.

Irene was born on June 23, 1929 to the late Helen Hutton Mickelson and Ralph W. Mickelson, Sr. in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. A firm believer in the value of education, Irene attended schools in Quinnville and Pawtucket, and was valedictorian of her graduating class from Sacred Heart High School and a member of the Rhode Island Honor Society.

At the College of Our Lady of the Elms in Massachusetts, Irene was secretary of the American Chemical Society, served on the Liturgy Commision of the National Federation of Catholic College Students, was stage manager of the drama club, and wrote for the College’s newspaper and magazine. She also worked with the American Red Cross at Westover Air Reserve Base, serving the wounded returning from the Korean War. She even met Burl Ives! Irene graduated with a cum laude BS in Chemistry and Math. She received a Master’s in Teaching Science from Trenton State College of New Jersey, where she ran the Math Lab as a graduate assistant. Irene was certified by the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut to teach Religion.

During high school and college, Irene worked for Presco’s Department Store in Pawtucket, RI and for Owen Corning Fiberglass in Ashton, RI. After college she was employed by General Electric (GE) in Schenectady, NY, in their guided missile program, at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL), and in Electron Tube Design Engineering. Irene was one of the first female engineers in the long history of GE. While in Schenectady, Irene was a member of the Adirondack Mountain Club, served on the Board of Governance for the Catholic Young Adult League, was Editor of their newspaper, and Chair of their discussion groups. She tutored math at the Children's Home and taught religious courses in various parishes throughout the city.

These early experiences provided a springboard for a lifetime of service and teaching, culminating in perhaps her most fulfilling job as a science and math teacher for non-traditional students at Willingboro High School. Irene had a lasting impact on her students, who remained in touch with her long after her retirement.

In addition to teaching, Irene devoted her life to service. In Jackson, Michigan, she was Emergency Services Coordinator for Catholic Social Services. In that capacity, she ran the food bank for the city of Jackson, was instrumental in setting up a kidney dialysis unit at Foote West Hospital, and represented Jackson's social services organizations at the Michigan State Legislature. Irene was instrumental in starting Alateen and Al-Anon groups in Manitowoc and Two Rivers, Wisconsin. She was a representative to the Tri-County Mental Health Board. In the Washington, DC area she read books to children, worked at food banks, and volunteered with various faith-based charities. She was an Interfaith Caregiver, providing respite and transportation for 15 years when it operated from the Lutheran Home in Moorestown, NJ. She was a Eucharistic Minister to the Homebound and Chaplain’s Assistant, ministering to the elderly – well into her eighties!

Irene enjoyed her golden years as a senior in independent living. She was a committed member of the Drama Club, taught Bible Study, coordinated Sunday Mass, served as Hospitality Chair, took part in all the art classes, competed in Words in a Word, and puzzles. Irene was a one-woman welcoming committee for all new residents, taking them under her wing as they got used to their new surroundings.

Hers was a life of giving, and Irene was an exemplar of ministerium super se. This is just scratching the surface of the impact that she had and her contribution to society. This is a testament to her strength of character and devotion to making the world a better place.

She was a loving and devoted daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend.

Irene is predeceased by her husband Robert F. Gill, her daughter Anne Marie Gill, her brothers Ralph and Howard Mickelson, and her sister Lois Barriere. She is survived by her daughters Karen Gill, Janice Gill, Julie Curtis, Linda Gill, Rosanne Basu; sons-in-law Steve Curtis and Pratik Basu; sister Enid Browne; grandchildren Joffrey Bywater, Stephen Morse, Hannah Koch, Quinn Curtis, Calen West, Ben Koch, and Eliza Gill; great-grandchildren Joslyn, Madelyn, and Brooklyn Bywater; and many loving nieces, nephews, and a vast number of other family members.

Irene lived a life in full, and her loss will be felt deeply by those who were lucky enough to have had her in their lives.