Irene (Sakmar) O’Day, 88, passed away on Oct. 2, 2017, surrounded by loved ones.
Born Nov. 27, 1928, in New Britain, Conn., to Helen (Seman) and John Sakmar.
She was taught by the Sisters of Mercy at St. Mary’s School and graduated from New Britain High School, where she was a member of the National Honor Society. Irene graduated from the Hartford Hospital School of Nursing in 1950, and became a clinical instructor at the school. She also was a staff nurse and head nurse on a post-surgical unit at Hartford Hospital. After her marriage to William J. O’Day in 1954, and after raising four children, Irene returned to nursing. She was a staff member of the Clinton Public Health Nursing Service, where she practiced both home and school nursing. Irene attended Central Connecticut State University earning a Certificate in Secondary School Health Education. After helping develop a curriculum for Health Occupations for the CT State Dept. of Education, she was employed as a Nurse’s Aide Instructor at the Old Saybrook High School Vocational Dept. Before retiring, she was a School Nurse at Mt. St. John School in Deep River, Conn. Irene was a member of the Board of Directors of the CT. Lung Assoc. and testified at the State Capitol on the dangers of second-hand smoke before it was banned. As an Associate of the Sisters of Mercy, she was a frequent program presenter at the Mercy Retreat Center, Madison, Conn., and was active in their prison ministry as a volunteer with the Chaplain program at state prisons in Niantic, Conn. She interned with Bernie Siegel in his Exceptional Cancer Patients group.
As a charter member of the Shoreline League of Democratic Women, Irene was active in political campaigns and rallied for health care for all. She was a member of the Hartford Hospital School of Nursing Alumnae Assoc. and a past member of the Nurse Healers Professional Associates International, the American Holistic Nurse Assoc. and the International Society of Hildegard of Bingen Studies. She was also a member of Namaste at Harmony House, Lyme, Conn. A life-long learner, Irene attended many conferences on holistic nursing where she learned and later taught Guided Imagery, Music for Healing and Therapeutic Touch, among other holistic modalities. An avid reader, she delighted in meeting authors and having their books autographed. She also enjoyed book discussion groups and hosted one at her home for several years.
Irene’s husband of 61 years, William O’Day predeceased her in 2015. Surviving are her sons, Timothy and Richard (Carol) O’Day, daughters Eileen DeWolf, and Nancy Riggs, and grandchildren, Sara Riggs, Justin and Thomas DeWolf. She is also survived by her sister, Frances Casey, sister-in-law, Patricia Coutu and several nieces and nephews.
Calling hours will be held Friday, Oct. 13 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Swan Funeral Home, 80 E. Main St., Clinton. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Saturday, Oct. 14 at 11 a.m. in St. Mary’s Church of the Visitation, 54 Grove St., Clinton. Burial is at the family’s convenience. Memorial donations may be made to: Mercy by the Sea, 167 Neck Road, Madison, CT 06443.