GROWING CONCERNS – Sitkans Andrea Fraga and Kaleb Aldred of Middle Island Gardens introduce themselves to an audience of around 100 this afternoon during the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit in Sweetland Hall on the SJ campus. The three-day conference, organized by Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition, Sustainable Southeast Partnership, runs through Sunday at several Sitka venues. Some of Saturday's topics include farming in Fairbanks, pest control and cultivating gourmet mushrooms. Vendor tables will be set up on Saturday and Sunday at Harrigan Centennial Hall. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Irene Williams

    Irene Mason Williams, a former Sitka resident, died Dec. 25, 2011, in St. Louis, Mo. She was 91.
    She was born July 9, 1920, in Shaw, Miss., the third child of John and Drucilla Mason.
    The family moved to St. Louis when she was young. She graduated from Sumner High School there in 1940, and attended Lincoln University, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in English literature. Afterward she received a degree in speech therapy at St. Louis University.
    In St. Louis, she was a mentor with the Young Women Christian Association, in which she used her talent as a speech therapist to help children with speech difficulties.
    Ms. Williams was politically active, and worked as one of the original members of the St. Louis Chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality. She, along with others, started the integration process of blacks into public accommodations in St. Louis.
    She lived in Sitka, with her sister, Clothilde Bahovec, for 40 years. The two were involved in many community activities, and she organized a Shakespearean festival here. She was a longtime member of United Methodist Church of Sitka, and the Unity Christ Church in St. Louis.
    As an explorer and adventurer at heart, she moved and lived in many places. She worked for the St. Louis County public schools as a speech therapist. Later she moved to Alberta, Canada, and then to Denver, Colo. In Sitka she continued and later retired as a speech therapist.
    Ms. Williams was preceded in death by her mother and father, John and Drucilla Mason; her brother, John Mason; and her sister, Clothilde Bahovec.
    Survivors include her nephews, John Mason (Amanda) and Leon Mason; nieces Drucilla Wilson and Irene Mason; cousins Dr. William Gibson, Dr. William Woods, Dr. Jerry Anne Woods, and Mrs. Milgret Woods; and many other relatives and friends.

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