TYLER, Irene Marie
This obituary is the odyssey of a very strong and beautiful lady who was an exceptionally talented linguist.
Irene Marie Tyler passed into heaven on Friday, October 9, 2020, after a prolonged battle with ovarian cancer, which began in 2016. The last months of her life were spent in hospice at her Atlanta home of 48 years, in the quest for comfort and elusive pain relief. She passed away peacefully while holding hands with her beloved husband, daughter and son.
Irene was a Dutch girl born and raised in Maastricht, the capital city of Limburg, a land peninsula of The Netherlands, located between Belgium, France and Germany. Limburg is a multi-linguistic area where virtually everyone speaks Dutch, French, German and some English.
Irene's mother was of the Laudy family, well known in the southern Netherlands for its doctors, dentists, accountants, artists, writers and builders. Three generations earlier, Irene's great grandfather had founded the Laudy Construction Firm whose projects included rehabilitation and remodeling of castles, palaces and other grand edifices. Irene's father, a former seminarian, was a university professor of French language, culture and literature. At the end of each academic year, after examining his own students, he would then visit other universities in The Netherlands to evaluate graduate students in French. Though Irene's family was Dutch, the culture in her home was very francophonic which set the stage for her vocation.
As a high school student, Irene's curriculum required six years each of Dutch, English, French and German. For those students such as Irene who were on the college track, an additional six years each of Greek and Latin were also required. Her love and natural gift for learning languages was her driving force.
After high school, Irene attended a Catholic teachers' college in Maastricht where she earned a certificate for teaching high school French (similar to the American Associates' degree). She then attended the University of Amsterdam to complete a BA in French and Italian. Irene went on to attend The State Technical Institute (a language college) in Brussels, Belgium to become a translator and interpreter of French, Italian and Russian. She continued her education at the University of Amsterdam and earned an MA in French and Italian in an intense and accelerated curriculum of one year vs the normal two year study.
During her collegiate years, Irene spent several summers in England perfecting her English. Irene also worked two summers in Italy teaching French to Italian students and working as an Italian-to-French translator/interpreter. Her determination and resilience were daunting. While studying in Brussels, Irene met Richard Tyler, an American medical student at the University of Brussels School of Medicine and fell in love with Richard and he with her.
In 1965, Irene immigrated to the USA with her fiance (Richard Tyler) and taught French and Italian at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. After marrying on December 26, 1965, she relocated to New York City and taught French in the public and private high schools while also studying and earning an MA in Education from the State University of New York. In 1972, Richard and Irene headed south to a much desired warmer climate in Atlanta to again continue her studies at Emory University where she obtained an MS in Library Science. She worked briefly as a librarian in the Atlanta Public School System and before establishing herself as a librarian at the Goethe Institute of the German Cultural Center in Atlanta.
Irene was ready for a change and as Atlanta's airport became world-renown, International Services (an organization providing language assistance to foreign travelers) evolved and hired Irene as a translator/interpreter of multiple languages. Her fellow linguists also spoke at least three languages and sometimes as many as nine. As Irene's language skills continued to become even more remarkable, multiple foreign airlines sought her. The lucky winner was Lufthansa German Airlines where she remained for 21 years until she retired in 2007.
As if working at the Atlanta Airport was not enough, Irene and two other Dutch friends created a unique tour guide service, catering to Dutch visitors in Atlanta. She also served as a Dutch language consultant for the Superior Court of Fulton County. Irene still managed during this time to be an amazing wife and mother to three children.
Two of her children blessed her with eight grandchildren who were an incredible source of joy for Irene. She cherished celebrating birthdays, Easter and Christmas with her kids as well as her grandkids. Decorating the house with Easter paraphernalia and planning Easter egg hunts in the house and backyard were annual traditions that she thoroughly enjoyed. Often hidden plastic eggs were a fun discovery many months after the egg hunt. Christmas was especially enjoyed as Irene taught her family about Dutch Christmas which she, as a child, celebrated around December 6th. As time passed and her kids and then her grandchildren became busy with college schedules, celebration of Dutch Christmas grew closer and closer to Christmas day. Irene was known for her delicious spaghetti, fantastic gumbo and cheesy mac and cheese dishes!
Irene absolutely loved Hilton Head, South Carolina, where for many years she entertained all of the grandchildren every summer. There she remained lovingly stern and kept an organized daily schedule with regular meals, plenty of beach and pool time and strict bedtime hours. When any of the grandkids would remonstrate that the sun had not completely set, Irene's retort would be, "I'm tired, you're tired." In spite of her rules, it was still a preferred annual trip for the children. For Irene, even after all of the kids were grown, Hilton Head became a cherished spot to spend with her husband, admire the endless beauty of all the plants and flowers which she always loved and simply relax to the peaceful sounds of the ocean. Hilton Head, in fact, became one of her favorite get-aways. Being an avid reader, she found happiness simply sitting at the beach, basking in the sun with her hat and reading with the ocean waves serving as her background music. Even during her final months when she could no longer travel, she found joy in resting in the patio, our family room, with a good book and Alexa playing quiet sounds of the ocean.
Irene LOVED her family! She was unalterably devoted to her husband, her rock of 55 years, her children and her grandchildren. Her husband adored her; they were "choux" to each othertranslated "cabbage" in French, equivalent to the American endearment of "pumpkin". To her children and grandchildren, she was the indefatigable "Oma" (Dutch for Grandma). Irene was the ultimate mama bear. No one dared to mess with her family.
Amongst her family and friends, Irene was known to all as a person always willing to offer an ear and a sympathetic shoulder. She was a tough, no-nonsense little lady, but she functioned with empathy and was always courteous, fair and anxious to lend a helping hand and never knew a stranger. This aspect of her personality probably sprang from her Dutch upbringing as she was born during WWII when there was great devastation and suffering all over Europe. Her father's family were farmers who managed during those difficult times, sharing their produce and meats with neighbors and others who were hungry. Her family sheltered several American pilots in their attic until it was safe to venture out. Irene grew up in an environment where vacation often consisted of exchanging homes with other families and even strangers in other cities and even in other countries.
International travelers frequently found themselves stranded by delayed or missed flights, lost baggage or even passport and visa problems which almost could not be resolved until the next day. Irene would offer aid without hesitation! It was not unusual for her to have a stranded traveler accompany her home and stay until the situation was cleared.
Irene was an extremely talented linguist. In addition to being fluent in at least five languages which included Dutch, English, French, German and Italian, she had a natural gift of learning new languages when traveling abroad, which was a favorite pastime for her and her husband. She taught herself Spanish and even Portuguese during several international trips.
Irene is survived by husband Richard; daughter Francoise Draper (Will); son Richard Tyler (Lori); grandchildren: Briana, Richard Jr., David, Erin, Tyler, Lauren, Gabrielle and Olivia; and special niece, Asha. She was preceded in death by daughter Juliette Lewis (Rustin). She leaves behind a special friend, Jerri Lee, who provided comfort and care to her during the years of illness. Irene also leaves behind a large host of relatives, former coworkers and friends.
Irene's husband and children appreciate the endless calls, letters and other expressions of love and affection during these difficult times. We also loved and adored Irene, our wife, mother and grandmother, but we are simply humbled as we had no idea just how loved she was by so many others. In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to the following organizations that Irene supported: Planned Parenthood and radio station WABE.
A virtual memorial service will be held at The Atlanta Botanical Gardens because of Irene's love of flowers and gardening. Unfortunately due to restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, invitation will be limited to immediate family.
In loving memory, the Tyler family.