Irene Clemente Furst was born on October 20, 1932 in Gabu, Philippines to Eladio and Filomena Clemente. The youngest of nine children, she grew up on Ilocos Norte, and told stories of hiding with her brothers and sisters during the war.  She was active in school activities like dance, cheerleading, volleyball, student body - and even competed for Miss High School. (She came in second.)

After high school, she enrolled in Northern Christian College. She originally wanted to become a nurse, but eventually got her BA in Physical Education in 1957 from Far Eastern University, and was hired to teach P.E.  By 1960, she says she was bored. Irene then applied and was accepted to come to the United States. After 23 days on a boat, she arrived in San Francisco, and stayed with family in Salinas while she pursued and eventually received her Master’s Degree.

She married the love of her life, Bill Furst, on May 30, 1964. Two years later, they had their first daughter, Tami. Four years after that, Roberta arrived. The family moved to Gold Bar, WA and Bill took a job working at the Washington State Reformatory while Irene stayed at home with the girls. When they moved to Monroe in 1978, Irene eventually went back to teaching. She was also very involved with the church community at St. Mary of the Valley. They remained in Monroe for more than twenty years before relocating to Pierce County after they both retired. Moving to Spanaway meant changing churches, and Bill and Irene found a church home at Our Lady Queen of Heaven parish. Here, Irene was active as a lector and Eucharistic minister. She also sang in the choir and was very involved in the Filipino community.

After a battle with cancer, Irene finally went home to her heavenly father on January 17, 2018. She is survived by her husband, Bill; her daughters, Tami and Roberta; their husbands, Mike and Joe; her grandsons, Justin and Ryan; and one surviving sister, Cecilia Medina.

A memorial service to celebrate Irene’s life will be held on February 10, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. at:

Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish

14601 A St S

Tacoma, WA 98444

(253) 537-3252

Reception to follow at:

Sprinker Recreation Center

Rainier Room, 2nd Floor

14824 C St S

Tacoma, WA 98444

(253) 798-4000

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made in Irene’s name to:

Missionaries of Charity

335 E. 145th St.

Bronx, NY 10451

(718) 292-0019