Irma “Tookie” (Hoefling) Hawley, 86, of Pittsburg passed peacefully at 3:50 pm Tuesday July 9, 2019 at Ascencion Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg with her family surrounding her. Cause of death was congestive heart failure.
Born in 1933 in Parsons KS, Irma was the youngest of three children to parents Norma (Lundquist) and Raymond Hoefling. Sisters Evelyn (Hoefling) Helmick of Wichita KS and Shell Knob MO, LaVon (Hoefling) Canerdy of Wilbraham MA, and brother Ray “Bud” Hoefling of McAlester OK preceded her in death.
Irma graduated Parsons High School and Junior College in 1951 and 1953, respectively. During these years she
was a cheerleader, jitterbug champion, Secretary of Student Council, Teen Town President, and 1951 Homecoming Queen.
After graduating, Irma worked as a telephone operator (or “Hello Girl” as she called the role) for Southwestern Bell. She became good friends with a co-worker, Carol (Hawley) Hoffman. Carol thought Irma a perfect mate for her big brother, Glenn Hawley, and set the two up on a blind date at Barto’s Idle Hour in Frontenac. Carol was right. It was love at first sight; a mere eleven weeks later they were married. As Irma often described this first date, “He was without a doubt the most handsome fellow I’d ever seen. And he had on blue suede shoes!” Irma and Glenn enjoyed a wonderful 56 years together before he passed in 2010.
Irma adored childen and, after her own two started school, she decided to pursue a career in teaching. She earned a BS (1966) and MS (1969) in Elementary Education at Kansas State Teachers College (now Pittsburg State University). For 24 years she taught 3rd and 4th grades in Arma, Lakeside School in Pittsburg, and in Grove OK. Going above and beyond teaching the basic subjects, Irma’s mission was to give her students the confidence that they could accomplish anything they put their minds to, to always demonstrate strong values, and to be optimistic about their futures. She made an enormous difference in the lives of so many. When out and about, she was often approached by former students (now in their 40s and 50s) expressing their gratitude and affection.
A lifelong active member of the First United Methodist Church, Irma frequently served on committees and took many leadership roles. Her “church family” was a very important part of her life. She was also active in many professional and social groups.
Irma lived life to the fullest. She lit up every room she entered with her enthusiasm, optimism, and sparkle. Ever caring and responsible, Irma was always the first to raise her hand when any of her church, charitable, or professional groups needed help. She never met a stranger and always saw the good in everybody and everything. Her motto was “Party makes the world go ‘round!” and she made everything an event, turning even the most mundane tasks and everyday errands into an adventure.
Irma is survived by son Kirk Hawley and daughter-in-law Debbie (Kennett) Hawley of Pittsburg; daughter Kimra Hawley and son-in-law Thomas van Overbeek of Chico CA; grandson Kristopher Hawley and granddaughter-in-law Molly (O’Malley) Hawley of Jacksonville FL; sister and brother-in-law Carol (Hawley) and Gerald Hoffman of Grove, OK; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
The family would like to extend special thanks to Dr. Holly Cranston, Dr. Jason Bailey, Dr. Bashar Marji, and the staff at Ascension Via Christi Hospital Pittsburg for their competent and compassionate care over the years.
A Memorial service is set for 10:30 a.m., Monday (July 15) at the First United Methodist Church with Rev. Mark Chambers officiating. Private family burial will follow be at a later date. The family will receive friends Sunday from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Brenner Mortuary. The family suggests memorial donations to First United Methodist Church. These may be left at or mailed to the Brenner Mortuary, 114 E. 4th St., Pittsburg, KS 66762. Friends may leave condolences online at www.brennermortuary.com.