Irenne "Dee Dee" Mikelson

June 9, 1928 ~ July 28, 2023 (age 95) 95 Years Old


Irenne “Dee Dee” Mikelson went home to be with her Lord and Savior on July 28, 2023, shortly after her husband and sister went home ahead of her. She was reliable, spunky, enthusiastic, witty, creative, and classy, and she would always make things fancy. She had a servant’s heart and a strong moral compass with firm convictions. She will always be remembered for her hospitality and her endearing love for her husband.

Irenne G. Kwassheim Mikelson was born on June 9, 1928, at home in Billings, to Norwegian immigrants Ane and Einar Kwassheim. Being nine years older than her sister Harriett, she was like a second mom to her. She moved to Butte with her family while her father worked in the mine and moved back to Billings when her father was doing construction work. She graduated from Senior High School in 1946. She married Ribs Mikelson on Dec. 31, 1948, and they were nearly inseparable, married for almost 75 years, holding hands to the very end.

Irenne, often called “Torchy” because of her bright red hair, worked in the office at Industrial Equipment. Once she bought a quart of ice cream to share with the inmates across the street in the county jail. She was always giving to those less fortunate. Irenne once said, “I think they thought I was looney — and they still do.” She helped her husband run a popcorn stand downtown called “The Corn Crib.” When her husband began building large upscale homes, Irenne started interior decorating the houses her husband designed, and her style became renowned and sought after in the Billings area.

She was the life of the party and loved to entertain. She would cater to guests, wanting them to have a good time. You could always count on Irenne to help plan an event. She knew the silliest songs and would be happy to share them with you, which, of course, came with actions. She loved white flowers, the color blue, warm weather, suntanning and traveling. She enjoyed shopping, party planning, doing crafts and ceramics. She helped start the Lutheran Brethren Church with her husband, which met in the YWCA. She later became a member of Faith Evangelical Church and served in many hospitality roles and was a part of the Friday Morning Prayer Group Auxiliary. She would also meet weekly for prayer with her lifelong friend Debbie Reger.

Irenne could be seen visiting people in nursing homes, bringing food to others, and giving rides to those that had no transportation. Regularly suggesting activities to do, she would always be up for a trip to get ice cream cones and have popcorn in the evening, and she would often bring lemonade out to guests that were swimming in her pool. She volunteered at ZooMontana and as a “pink lady” at the St. Vincent Hospital gift shop. She also delivered meals to shut-ins for Meals-On-Wheels. She was a PEO Chapter AV member and also a member of the Landmarks Garden Club, which did various landscaping projects for the city of Billings. She spent most of her weekends at their cabin south of Absarokee, making many wonderful memories, hosting get-togethers with church friends and having family barbecues. In winter, she would spend her time with her husband at their condo in Kona, Hawaii.

After sustaining a head injury in 2013, Irenne was dependent on others. With the help of her husband Ribs; her sister Harriett; her niece Tami; her cousin Ozzie; and caregivers Gail, Lisa, Carly, Sam, Jimmy Sue, and Tacie, she was able to remain living in her home until her passing.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Ribs Mikelson; and her sister Harriett Hudson. She leaves behind her niece, Tami Hawkins (Tim); her nephew, Todd Cole (Tanya); her great-niece Tacie; and her great-nephews Taylen, Kyle, Cody, Colin, and Kolya.

A memorial service celebrating both Ribs and Irenne’s life will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 3, at Faith Evangelical Church, 3145 Sweet Water Drive, Billings. Gravesite service will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, at Yellowstone National Cemetery in Laurel.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Billy Graham Evangelistic Association or Faith Evangelical Church.

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Graveside Service
August 3, 2023

10:00 AM
Yellowstone National Cemetery
55 Buffalo Trail Road
Laurel, Montana 59044

Memorial Service
August 3, 2023

11:00 AM
Faith Evangelical Church
3145 Sweet Water Drive
Billings, MT 59102


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