SEAY, Irene B. (Sparks)
Irene Bell Seay, 77, of Duncan, Okla., was called to Heaven Thursday, June 25, 2009, after a courageous battle with Alzheimer's disease. Funeral services will be at New Hope Baptist Church West, Duncan, at 2:00 p.m. Monday, June 29, 2009, with the Rev. Randy Southerland officiating. Interment will be at Duncan Cemetery under the direction of Don Grantham Funeral Home, Duncan. There will be a visitation for family and friends today 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. at the funeral home. She was born Dec. 3, 1931 to Barney F. Sparks and Delma Marie Owens Sparks in Ada, Okla. She was united in marriage to the love of her life, Reuben Eugene Seay, on Dec. 26, 1950 in Chickasha, Okla., and they shared more than 58 wonderful years. Irene received her Bachelor of Arts in Speech Therapy from Oklahoma College for Women (now USAO) in 1952. She received her Master's Degree in Education from the University of Oklahoma in 1963. She received her Doctorate of Education from the University of Oklahoma 1993. Irene loved children and spent 41 years in the field of Education. She began her career in 1960 as a first grade teacher in the Duncan Public School System and taught at Woodrow Wilson, Mark Twain, Emerson, Will Rogers and Horace Mann through 1979. In 1979 she became Principal of Horace Mann Elementary School and remained there through 2001, when she retired. Irene's excellence in her chosen profession was acknowledged by her peers through the various awards she received over the years. She was named 1977-1978 Teacher of the Year by the Duncan Education Assoc. She was named 1982-1983 District Administrator of the Year and 1985-1986 District Administrator of the Year by the Oklahoma Assoc. of Elementary Principals. She received the award as Oklahoma State Elementary School Administrator of the Year in 1997. Irene had the distinct honor of being named National Distinguished Principal from the State of Oklahoma in 1997 after being chosen by the United States Department of Education and The National Assoc. of Elementary School Principals. She was very active in the Duncan community, serving on the Board of Directors of the Stephens County Youth Services, the Duncan Chamber of Commerce and the United Way. She was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, the National Honor Society for Women Educators, serving as President from 1974-1976. Irene was a member of Immanuel Baptist Church in Duncan, serving as a Sunday School teacher for 20 years, and later became a charter member of the New Hope Baptist Church West in Duncan. Irene was preceded in death by her parents and her brother, Paul Sparks. She is survived by her beloved husband, R.E. (Gene) Seay; her daughter and son-in-law, Nikki and Dwight Pilgrim of Edmond, Okla.; her son, Stephen Seay of Houston, Texas; two granddaughters: Christy Carpenter of Little Rock, Ark.; and Ashley Evans of Ark.; one great-granddaughter, Ellie Carpenter; and one sister, Helen Paty of Chickasha, Okla. Irene lived a full life, driven by a strong and loving Christian spirit. She focused her love and energy on her family and will be loved and missed forever. Pallbearers will be: Carl Bowers, Jim Edwards, Bill High, Brad Allen Sam Skinner and Doug Pewitt. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to the Alzheimer's Association ; 3555 NW 58th Street; Suite 220; Oklahoma City, OK 73112.