October 29, 2015
Emma “Irene” VanDresar MacPherson, 88, entered her heavenly home on October 29, 2015. Devotion to God, family, and the fellowship of believers worldwide marked her life and impassioned her desire to share her faith with all she met. This Hope was the foundation of her parting word to all of us on countless occasions – UNTIL! – we meet again here or in eternity with Him.
Irene was born to the late John B. VanDresar and Ethel Cosselman VanDresar Long in Alexandria Bay, NY on May 6, 1927. She was led to the Lord by her step-father, Eslie A. Long, who was a charter member of the Watertown Church of the Nazarene. She graduated from Eastern Nazarene College with a B.A. of Philosophy and a B.A. of Theology in 1948. She furthered her studies by earning a M.A. of English Literature at Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1975.
Irene was blessed with a large and loving family. She married her best friend and life partner, Rev. Walter Scott MacPherson, Jr, on August 14, 1948 in Schenectady, NY and together they had four children. They served in active ministry in the Church of the Nazarene for over fifty years as pastors, church planters, and seminary staffers in four countries and three continents. She was the consummate teacher – whether at home with her own children, in the public school system, or ultimately on the university level. Her children, grandchildren, and students regarded Mrs. Mac as the final authority of all things grammatical. And how she loved to read! Right up until her final days, the question was “What does Irene have on her kindle?” She shared that passion with her children and grandchildren as well.
Irene personified the “gift of hospitality” throughout her life. As a pastor’s wife, it was a rare Sunday that did not include an elaborate dinner for church parishioners and visitors alike. In later years, her gift encompassed picnics on the banks of the St. Lawrence, as well as sharing her “upper room” cottage with family and friends from around the world. All visits were well documented behind the lens of her camera, and her chronological photo albums have become a family treasure of epic proportions. And just as she has given blessings over the years, she received compassionate care from the staff of the Samaritan Keep Home during her final days.
Irene is survived by her husband, Walter; their daughters, Lois Taylor and her husband Ronald of Black River, NY; Esther Underhay and her husband Paul of West Palm Beach, FL; and Sarah Avila and her husband Enildo David of Irmo, SC; their son, Walter Scott MacPherson and his wife Donna of Alexandria Bay, NY; her niece, Betty Lanterman, and her nephew, Robert Houghton, formerly of Alexandria Bay, NY; thirteen grandchildren; Jeffrey Taylor, Tammy Taylor Farmer, Ronald Taylor Jr., Matthew Underhay, Jonathan Avila, AnnaLisa Underhay, Samuel Avila, Timothy Avila, Sarah Irene MacPherson Ferry, Maria Avila Risolute, Stephen Avila, Bethany MacPherson Ramsay, Walter Scott MacPherson IV, and their families including the blessing of nineteen great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, step-father, and half-brother, Frank Houghton.
There will be two calling hours. The first will be 7:00 to 9:00 pm on Monday, November 2, 2015, at the Costello Funeral Home, 113 Church Street in Alexandria Bay, NY. An additional calling hour will be held on Tuesday, November 3, 2015, from 10:00 to 11:00 am before the service, a Celebration of Irene’s Life, at the Life Church of the Nazarene, 535 Thompson Blvd., Watertown, NY. Cemetery service to follow at the Walton Street Cemetery, Alexandria Bay, NY.