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IRMA SPEARSTONE - BURLINGTON - Irma Teresa Spearstone, 80, of Blondin Circle in Burlington, died on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, in her home, with family by her side, following a 16 month-long illness. She was born on Sept. 29, 1932, on a farm in Kaisten, Aargau State, Switzerland, the seventh of 15 children of August and Frieda (Ackermann) Winter. In Switzerland, she completed an apprenticeship in the textile industry, and worked for the Elna Sewing Machine Company before meeting and marrying American medical student, John J. Murphy, MD, of Westville, N.Y., who survives her, and with whom she had three children. The couple and their first-born child, Edward, arrived in the United States on Aug. 1, 1960, on the S.S. United States ocean liner. Irma quickly embraced both the melting pot of her new country, and her eventual proud naturalized citizenship within it. While raising her three children in the early 1970s as a single parent, Irma became the first foreign born graduate of Clinton Community College in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and then earned her bachelor's degree in business administration from SUNY, Plattsburgh, all within a span of three years. On Aug. 1, 1974, she moved to Burlington and began her professional life, working for Irene Thomas of Vergennes, in tax preparation. Several years later, she opened Spearstone Business Services, while also working in real estate as an agent of O'Brien Realty. She continued to operate her Spearstone Business Services for 25 years, later on a part-time basis, until the onset of her illness. Over the years, Irma was a communicant at both St. Mark's and Cathedral Parishes in Burlington. She enjoyed participating in the cultural life of the Queen City and Vermont. At home, she was hospitable to guests, generous to those in need, and doted on her visiting children and grandsons. She was an excellent seamstress and also loved knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, and numerous do-it-yourself home repairs. In her later years, she volunteered for the Ethan Allen Tower openings and enjoyed her friends at the German Club, and their meetings and outings. Irma spoke fluent English, High German, and Swiss German, and she was more than proficient in speaking and writing in French, and was working on mastering her Spanish. Married to her second husband, Marvin Spearstone, who predeceased her on Dec. 3, 1991, Irma and "Spear" enjoyed cross-country road trips exploring our great nation. They never saw a casino that was without appeal to them, be it Vegas, Atlantic City, or even Montreal (a city in which she was fearless careening in her station wagon). When widowed, she continued exploring the back roads of the Northeast, from New York State to the Maritimes, every summer and fall. To those who knew her, Irma showed her love primarily through action, not words. She was one of the hardest working people most of us have ever met, and she was happy to be of practical service to anyone in need. Her opinions were strong, and no one was ever able to dissuade her from living life her way. Irma is survived by her three children: her eldest, Edward Murphy of Burlington, who tended lovingly to her in her time of illness; her daughter, Lillian Murphy, along with her well-loved grandsons, Peter and Linus Russell, all of North Yarmouth, Maine; and her cherished youngest, Timothy Murphy of Ogdensburg, New York, along with his girlfriend, Judith Pudadera of Ottawa, Ontario; a stepdaughter, Amber Cardenas of Rock Island, Ill.; and innumerable extended family members in Switzerland and around the World. Irma's children would like to thank her doctors, including but not limited to, Marie Sandoval and Damon Silverman, for their care of our mother before and while they "went for the cure". In addition, we are grateful for the many wonderful nurses and allied health professionals at Fletcher Allen Healthcare, the Burlington Rehabilitation Center, the VNA, and Armistead Homecare, all who spent countless hours tending to her. We thank Sr. Marie Feely for her Tuesday afternoon visits to provide spiritual care. Finally, we express our deepest thanks to Irma's many dear and faithful friends, who continued to send cards and emails to our mother, even as she quickly became too ill to respond or to visit. The disposition of Irma's cremated remains is pending and will be either by interment at Arlington National Cemetery, next to her deceased husband, Marvin, or over Lake Champlain in the warmer season. Memorial Masses will be offered for the repose of her soul in the near future. An informal celebration of the life of Irma Spearstone will be held on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Diamond Ballroom at the Sheraton Conference Center, Burlington. All who knew and loved her are welcome to attend. In lieu of flowers, consider a memorial contribution to Vermont Catholic Charities, P.O. Box 2226, South Burlington, VT 05407. The family welcomes any written remembrances for their memorial album at that time, or to be sent to Edward Murphy in the future, at P.O. Box 3254, Burlington, VT 054083254. By the death and resurrection of the Son of God, we believe that Irma's sins have been forgiven and that she is happy and at peace with her Good Shepherd. However, we have a harder time believing her to be at rest. She is more likely looking for practical ways to help keep Heaven in good repair, and perhaps, to assist in keeping the rest of the flock in line. We already miss you. We will never forget you. We will love you always.

Published in The Burlington Free Press on Jan. 1, 2013
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