Irene Castles

ROCHELLE — Irene D. Castles, 100, passed away on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019 at the Franklin Grove Nursing Home.
Irene was born on May 14, 1918 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the daughter of Cecil and Mary (O’Connor) Watkins. She graduated from Lake View High School in Chicago. Irene then went on to study dress design at the American Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago.
After working for Bell Telephone in Chicago for four years, she transferred to Bremerton, Washington in December of 1941 in order to marry her fiancé, Charles H. Castles Jr. on January 09, 1942. In 1943, pregnant with their first child, Irene moved back to Grand Rapids and there had their first daughter. She then moved to Chicago. When the war was over, Irene, Chick and their daughter moved to Chick’s hometown of Springfield where they settled in and the family grew to include six children.
Irene worked at Bridges Jewelers and Hudson 5 & Dime. She was also a crossing guard for many years in Springfield on the corner of Bond and North Grand, a den mother for her sons’ Cub Scout den and a member of the VFW Auxiliary.
After Chick’s death on Aug. 8, 1993, Irene continued to live in the little house on N. New St. until 2003 when she moved to Chicago to live with Meg and John. They all moved to Rochelle in 2004 and quickly became part of the fabric of this wonderful community.
Irene was a multi-talented woman who could create just about anything with her sewing machine, draw anything from a dress design to a mural on a wall, teach little people to play games and make crafty things. She was a kind person who always found good in everyone she met. She expected the best from her children and often reminded them they were to be ladies/gentlemen who represented the Castles family.
Irene was a devout Roman Catholic who had a special friendship with Our Lady. She evangelized by her good example and was currently a member of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Rochelle and also maintained membership at St. Joseph Church in Springfield.
In addition to her husband and parents, she is preceded in death by her brother, Dudley Watkins; infant angel granddaughter, Pamela Kernica; and niece, Kathleen Lake.
Irene is survived by her six children, Mary Margaret “Meg” and John Battles of Rochelle, Julie and Michael Cross of Dunnellon, Florida, Deborah and John Kernica of Lenoir City, Tennessee, Scott and Denise Castles of Nine Miles Falls, Washington, Gerry and Sherri Castles of Springfield, and Bryan and Terri Castles of Chandler, Arizona; 20 grandchildren, Timothy and Sheri Battles, Caryn (the late Steven) McNulty, Jennifer and Steven Schulz, Patricia and Link Nunsuch, Tami and Mark Rhodes, Michael Cross, Jr., Rebecca (Jerry Collins) Cross, David and Judi Kernica, Julie and Jason Lenertz, Elizabeth and W. Robert Fox, Sarah and Bryson Grimes, Scott, Jr. (Linsey Derry) Castles, Krystal and Nicholas Wages, Rikki (Michael McMasters) Castles, Charla and Jason Warren, Morgan Jackson, Lauren and Gary Swaggerty, Charles “Trey” Castles, Nolan Castles and Tessa Castles; 32 great-grandchildren, Kayla, Steven (Caitlin), Crystal (Joe), Kenneth, Sean, Stefanie (Travis), Jillian, Brooke, Ivan, Skylar, Penelope, Irene (Justin), Nathan, Naomi, Erik, Katarina, Wesley, MaryAnne, Demaris, Noah, Eli, Avilyn, Brennan Derry, Lincoln, Charli, Madilynn, Colton McMasters, Leo, Charley, Connor, Amelia, Gianna; four great-great-grandchildren, Micah, Renee, Lily, Olivia; former daughter-in-law, Cheryl Castles; numerous nieces and nephews and their families and many cousins and dear friends.
Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 3 at the Unger Horner Funeral Home, 400 N. Sixth St., Rochelle. Funeral mass will be at 10 a.m. on Monday, March 4 at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 236 Kelley Drive, Rochelle, with the Father Ruben Herrera officiating. Cremation will follow services. There will be a memorial visitation from 11 a.m. to 12:30 P.M., Wednesday, March 6 at Staab Funeral Home, 1109 S. 5th St., Springfield. A memorial service will follow at 12:30 p.m. with Reverend Robert Jallas officiating. Burial will be at Camp Butler Military Cemetery in Springfield.
A memorial has been established to the St. Patrick Catholic Church Capital Fund.
An online guest book is available at


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