Irene Betty Sanderson
Dec. 19, 1929 — May 18, 2022

On December 29, 1929 Irene Betty O’Hearn was born in Scio, Oregon to John and Etta O’Hearn. She was one of five siblings — Lydia, Gene, Irene, Merle and Thomas. In 1948, she married the love of her life, John Sanderson. The two lovebirds would spend 67½ beautiful years together. They welcomed their daughter Barbara in 1949, their daughter Marcia in 1952 and their son John Jr in 1956.

John and Irene would raise their three children at their Arcata home, and lived there until their health required them to move into assisted living. Irene would have coffee nearly every day with her good friend Macy Powers, who lived next door. She was so blessed with her wonderful neighbors — the Powers, the Henrys and the Matteris.

Irene was a wonderful mother. She loved her children with her whole heart. Some of her children’s favorite memories are the family trips for the holidays, to visit the grandparents in Lebanon, Oregon. In her family’s younger years, she could be found running the children to birthday parties, taking the girls to sleepovers with friends, or taking their son John and his friends fishing and clamming. Irene and John were faithful to attend all the family birthday parties, holidays, and all the grandkids games, until they were no longer able to do so.

Irene loved to play card games, do puzzles, and play yahtzee… but her favorite thing to do was gamble! John & Irene loved to take the kids to Reno since they were little! One parent would spend time with the children visiting places like Virginia City, while the other would gamble, then they would trade off. Their love for gambling continued through the years. When they took trips to Reno later in life, they would often stop to visit with their daughter Barbara and her husband Don, who lived in Placerville. Irene would want to go out to dinner, but John would say, “Let’s have Don BBQ for us!” As the years went on, they were unable to drive long distances, so they could frequently be found at the local casinos together.

Irene was a great cook! She would make lasagna for us on special occasions. She and John Sr had a small garden in the yard where they would grow zucchini, rhubarb and more! She was always faithful to bring her baked beans and zucchini bread to holiday gatherings. There would always be a few loaves in the freezer, so she could have some ready, whenever we wanted.

Irene absolutely loved the Oakland A’s! John Sr didn’t care much for baseball, but he made sure she had her own little TV in the kitchen, on the counter, so she could watch the game while playing cards or yahtzee. That is the kind of loving relationship they had.

As time went on and Irene’s health declined, she stayed for a time at Eureka Rehabilitation. This is where she met Pastor “little Joe” Kent. She loved to go to the Sunday services there, and listen to Joe bring the message and Lynda play the piano. When she returned to Frye’s Care Home, she continued to ask about him, and we know that she would be happy that he is officiating her Celebration of Life service.

Irene and John Sr came to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior before they left for heaven. They were inseparable in life, and now reunited for eternity. We are so thankful for the peace that comes with the assurance that we will see them both again one day.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Irene is survived by her Daughter Barbara and husband Don Dean, her daughter Marcia and Husband Stephen Henson, her son John Sanderson Jr and wife Cheryl, her grandchildren Mark and his wife Stephanie Broom, Jeremy and his wife Dusty Henson, Marisa and her husband Kevin Raimey, Crystal and her husband Keith Dyar, and Jennifer Sanderson. She is also survived by her great-grandchildren, Chelsea and her husband Jasper Love, Tayler Henson, Kasey Henson, Makenzie Henson, Sierra and Lucas Miller, Cyndell and her husband Victor Kale, Sacha and her husband Tyler Morgan, Keegan Dyar, Brayden Dyar, Johnny Dyar and Cage Mulvaney, also her great-great-grandchildren Carter, Aubree and Casen Love.

The family would like to extend a special thank you to Irene’s caregivers, who were not just her caregivers, but were like family to her. Thank you Diana, Leslie, Kaitlin, and Alma at Frye’s Care Home.

Graveside services will be held Friday, May 27 at 11 a.m. at Ocean View Cemetery. All who loved her are welcome to attend.


The obituary above was submitted by Irene Sanderson’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here. Email