Irene G. (Higgins) Van Wormer, 1914-2017

Frank L. Keszei Funeral Home, Essling Chapel, LaPorte, is handling arrangements for Irene G. (Higgins) Van Wormer, who passed away peacefully on Thursday, October 19, 2017, at Miller’s in LaPorte.

Irene was born September 3, 1914, in the Higgins family homestead in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. She was the daughter of the late Howard and Mabel (Benedict) Higgins, and the great-granddaughter of Fitch Allen Higgins, who was one of the early settlers of Kenosha, Wisconsin, having arrived there in 1836 from Connecticut.

She was educated in the schools of Kenosha and graduated from Kenosha High School in 1932. Irene moved to her longtime home on 21st Avenue in Kenosha as a new bride in July, 1935, and resided there for 77 years. Her husband, Bernard Peter Van Wormer, was employed as an engineer with American Motors for 46 years and was responsible for engineering operations for the Kenosha plant. He preceded her in death on December 18, 1986.  She stayed in the family home until she was 98 years of age, when she moved in 2012 to Indiana to be closer to family members. She resided at Brentwood Assisted Living for six years, and was recently a resident of Miller’s Health, LaPorte, until her death.

She had two sons, Glen H. Van Wormer of Stillwater, Minnesota, and Bernie L. Van Wormer of LaPorte.  She married B.D. (Johnny) Madden in 1990, who also preceded her in death in 2003.

She was a member of the Wisconsin Society of Mayflower Descendants, Kenosha Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, Kenosha Bradford High School Alumni Association, Kenosha County Historical Society, former member of Connecticut Society of Genealogists, and former member of Past Presidents of PTA.

She was a volunteer at United Hospital Systems Medical Center in Kenosha from 1962 to 2012, amassing over 11,000 volunteer hours, and her 50 years’ service stands as a volunteer record there.

Her main hobby was genealogy; she had written a number of family history books.

She is survived by her 2 sons, Glen (Diana) Van Wormer of Stillwater, Minnesota, and Bernie (Georgia) Van Wormer of LaPorte, Indiana; a stepdaughter, Linda (Harold) Skelton of Concord, North Carolina; 5 grandchildren: Greg, Scott, David and Ty Van Wormer and Denise Howard; 2 step-grandchildren: Katie Stallings and Michael Skelton; 8 great-grandchildren; and a niece, Linda (Howard) Clausen of Arkansas. 

She was preceded in death by her parents, her two husbands and a sister, Genevieve (Gilbert) Sanville. 

She will be interred at Green Ridge Cemetery in Kenosha. A celebration to honor her full, happy and fruitful life will be held in Kenosha at a future date.

She will be remembered fondly.

In her memory, please help a child in need.

Messages of condolence may be posted below on WNLP as well as at

2 Responses to “Irene G. (Higgins) Van Wormer, 1914-2017”

  1. Sharon Moscicki

    Oct 22. 2017

    On behalf of the Kenosha chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, I would like to send our sincere condolences to her family. She had been a dedicated member of our chapter since October 10, 1974 and served in many capacities. She was our “go to” person who could answer any questions about our society. We have missed her since she move to Indiana a few years ago and are saddened to hear of her passing. We a available to do right memorial at her service in Kenosha.

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  2. jerry parker

    Oct 23. 2017

    I was lucky enough to have known Irene for all of my 72 years having lived one house away from the Van Wormer family. As a kid Irene drove us to parks and lakes and pools. She drove us to the country pointing out song birds which she loved. Around her home she supplied us with handmade butterfly nets and Indian headdresses and filmed us playing cowboys in her yard. As teens she put up with BB guns and bow and arrows both in the basement and yards. And soon it was hot rods and Memorial Day parties in the back yard. There isn’t enough room in this computer to tell everyone everything she did for us with so little thanks. But I promise you I will remember those things and cherish her in my memory. You see nobody ever had such great, wonderful, neighbors as I. You will be missed. jp

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