Irene Louise (Bryson) Herden, age 89, long time resident of East Haddam, widow of the late Everett L. Herden, Jr., passed away in Cromwell on April 11, 2020. Born in Worcester, MA on October 1, 1930, she was the daughter of John and Theresa (Aldrich) Bryson.
Irene received her Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education/Math/Science from State Teachers College, Worcester, in 1952. In 1953 she enlisted in the United States Army, Army Medical Field Service School and received a Certificate in Occupational Therapy in 1955. She served as an Occupational Therapist in active duty and continued her military service in the Reserves for many years. By the time of her retirement in 1993, she had obtained the rank of Colonel. Irene also received an MBA in Health Administration from the University of Connecticut in 1985.
Irene’s career in Occupational Therapy included employment with the State of Connecticut, Department of Mental Health. She also served as Program Director and Instructor in the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at Bay Path College, East Long Meadow, MA.
Irene remained professionally active throughout her career and beyond. She was very active in the Connecticut Occupational Therapy Association (ConnOTA) and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), receiving numerous awards from both associations, including the prestigious status of Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association. She served as committee member and chair of the ConnOTA Government Affairs committee and also as CT State Representative in the AOTA Representative Assembly. Irene was a committed volunteer on the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ Catchment Area Council #10, Regional Mental Health and State Advisory Boards for over 30 years.
Even in her retirement she continued her passion for helping people. She and Everett became a teaching instructor team for the safe driving program for the AARP. Irene also volunteered for AARP assisting members with their taxes. She and Everett also found time to teach Tai Chi at the Senior Center in East Haddam. Irene and Everett also teamed up as volunteer ushers at the Connecticut Open Women’s Tennis Tournament. After Everett’s passing, she continued solo. Irene was a frequent and dedicated blood donor.
In her free time, Irene enjoyed swimming. She regularly attended services as a member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in East Haddam.
Irene will be forever loved and missed by her sisters Virginia F. White of Massachusetts and Maureen T. Rawding of New York; her close friends Judith Sehnal of Meredith, New Hampshire and Joseph and Agnes Valentini of Salem, Connecticut. Numerous nieces and nephews, and extended family and friends. In addition to her parents and husband, she was predeceased by her brothers Rev. John W. Bryson, Paul F. Bryson, and Edward R. Bryson, and sisters Mary A. Cashmon and Joan H. Tetrault.
The Aurora McCarthy Funeral Home of Colchester has been entrusted with care of arrangements. A memorial service with military honors will be held on Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 12 PM in the First Church Cemetery, located near 499 Town Street, East Haddam, CT next to the First Church of Christ Congregational Church. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in Irene's memory to a charity of one's choice. For online condolences please visit www.auroramccarthyfuneralhome.com
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