She was born June 24, 1928, in Gate City, VA to the late John and Mary Byrd Williams and had lived in Kingsport most of her life.
Mrs. Gillenwater worked at an early age at the shirt factory in Gate City, VA and later went on to work for Eastman Kodak and J.C. Penney, where she retired in the 1990’s. She was a charter member of Bloomingdale Ruritan and was recognized as Ruritan of the Year for the Tennessee District. Mrs. Gillenwater was a member of Bloomingdale Baptist Church where she sang in the choir, taught Sunday School and for years was a custodian with Nellie Mitchell.
She enjoyed reading, gardening and was famous for her blueberry dessert.
After the passing of her husband, Cecil, in 1999, Mrs. Gillenwater found a special friendship with the late George Stacy. They enjoyed many years of working alongside each other at Bloomingdale Baptist and the Bloomingdale Ruritan Club. Mrs. Gillenwater considered George’s family, her family too.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Cecil Gillenwater; four sisters and eight brothers.
Those left to cherish her memory are her son, Roger Gillenwater and wife, Michelle; grandchildren, Jason Gillenwater and wife, Markeeta, Amber Russell and husband, Nathan and Kevin Gillenwater and wife, Sarah; great grandchildren, Carter Gillenwater, Elijah Gillenwater, Erin Gillenwater, Allison Russell, Natalie Russell, Evelyn Gillenwater , Miles Gillenwater and Levi Gillenwater; several nieces and nephews.
The family will receive friends from 1:00 pm to 2:45 pm Saturday, September 14, 2019, at Oak Hill Funeral and Cremation Services in the J. Wayne Hamilton Memorial Chapel. A Celebration of Life Service will follow at 3:00 pm with Pastor Phil Whittemore officiating. Music will be provided by Jerry Taylor.
A Committal Service will be held at 2:00 pm Sunday, September 15, 2019, in the Chapel of Oak Hill Funeral and Cremation Service. Mrs. Gillenwater will be laid to rest at Oak Hill Memorial Park in the Garden of Sermon on the Mount. Pallbearers will be Kevin Gillenwater, Nathan Russell, Marty Williams, David Gillenwater and Mark Stacy. Honorary Pallbearers will be members of the Bloomingdale Ruritan Club.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Bloomingdale Baptist Church, 3220 Bloomingdale Rd., Kingsport, TN 37660; Bloomingdale Ruritan Club, 3232 Van Horn St., Kingsport, TN 37660 or a charity of your choice.
The family would like to extend a special thank you to the staff at Brookdale Assisted Living, Tammy Payne and Amedysis Hospice
The care of Irene Gillenwater and her family has been entrusted to Oak Hill Funeral and Cremation Services.