Irene Gray Osborne


Irene Gray Osborne, age 89, died Monday, August 17, 2009 at Beechtree Care Center in Ithaca, NY. Irene was born on January 1, 1920 in Alliance, Ohio. Before moving to Beechtree, she resided for 8 years at McGraw House, having moved to Ithaca in 1997 from Philadelphia, PA where she had lived since the early 1960's.
Irene spent her life working for peace and justice. She was part of the energy that changed our world! Her main focus was working to promote desegregation in the 1950's. She worked with an American Friends Service Committee as Director of the Washington Community Relations Program, an organization dedicated to racial desegregation. She worked hard toward the Brown vs. Board of Ed. Decision in 1954. She spent a lot of her career talking to groups across the country such as interracial councils dedicated to desegregation. Irene published several articles supporting school integration from 1953-1959. Her work allowed her to meet many people, including influential leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks.
Irene also worked at several jobs concerned for the welfare of people, for example, the Society for the Blind and United Way. In addition she was a sociology teacher for many years, both at the High School and college level. Along the way, she always advocated for women's rights and the rights of all individuals.
Irene identified with the Quakers, but also attended the Methodist Church for many years. She took seriously her role in taking care of people and taking care of the earth, for example never driving a car. Irene loved classical music, particularly the works of Beethoven. She enjoyed all types of musical and theatrical productions. She was an avid reader. She was also an excellent Scrabble player and won several awards (including First Place in a Philadelphia Tournament in 1975, and a finalist in a North American Tournament in 1978).
Irene is survived by two nieces, Nancy Williams (Wenmouth Williams, Jr.) of Ithaca, NY and Peg Stoyell (Dave Stoyell) of Lansing, NY, as well as one nephew Robert Morgan (Michele Morgan) of Cleveland, OH. She is survived by several grandnieces and grandnephews including Wenmouth Alan Williams, Carrie Williams, Sally Stoyell, James Stoyell, Daniel Stoyell, Ryan Morgan (Mandi Morgan), and Brendan Morgan.
A memorial service will be held on Sun., Oct. 11 at 4p.m. at McGraw House. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to McGraw House, 700 McGraw House, Ithaca, NY 14850.

Published in Ithaca Journal on Sept. 23, 2009