TOWBIN--Irene Kathleen June 10, 2011. A unique person, independent mother, artist, and friend. A citizen of Ireland and the USA, Irene was born in Brooklyn, attended catholic schools and became a graduate nurse from the Lenox Hill Hospital School of Nursing. She married and had three children; Minna, whose husband, Ned Pinger and children Belmont, Dash, and Zyla mourn her passing; Bram and his wife Erica, and Zachary and his wife Hannah and their children; Harry, Phoebe and Cayetana all share the tragedy of losing a mother and grandmother, as she approached her 75th year. She will also be mourned by her brother, Dan Lyons and his wife Judy and their children; Cathlin, and husband Eric, and their two children, Daniel and his wife Donna, and their two children, and Matthew Lyons. Finally, she will be missed by her former husband and friend Robert Towbin, who admired her unique understanding of good and bad and her willingness, to express her strong opinions. Irene was an accomplished artist who worked many years in her SoHo studio which she shared with her dear friend and fellow artist Kiki Kogelnik. Irene was more than a painter and maker of unique constructions, be it amusing statements of undeniable truths, or photos of things that would surely lose their glamour and moments of popular appeal. Her photos in the Dublin, Ireland, eatery, the Temple Bar, capture the SoHo of New York in the 1980's that no longer exists. Her growing interest in what governments are obligated to do for their citizens which started during the McCarthy era of the 1950s and translated, over the years, to a fierce defense of women's rights and disenfranchised people everywhere on this earth characterized her incisive strong and brave attitude to life. A growing distaste for the movement in her home country by right wing politicians infuriated her and as President George W. Bush became the favorite to win a second term, she decided to leave America and live in Ireland. She chose Galway as her home and created a unique spot in which to live. As she settled in, she began to travel and returned to Budapest, Hungary where Kiki had had a show years earlier, and bought an apartment there, on the river, and made her home both in Ireland and Budapest, entertaining her friends in both places in the ensuing years. Irene will be missed by friends in Ireland, Hungary and Staten Island where she bought two flats when the Staten Island Yankees came to town and sold one. The Yankees have not done as well. A memorial service will be held in New York City and details will be announced soon.
Published in New York Times on Jun. 11, 2011.