Irene Cougias Nolan // Blowing Bubbles & A Eulogy & Pajamas & An Obituary // My Grandmother

Thank you so much for your patience while the office and studio have been closed.  The time spent with my Grandmother in her final days, and my family in the days afterwards, was truly cherished.


My Grandma, the spitfire.  Singer of songs. Roller of eyes. Taker of naps. Dropper of f-bombs. Hot dogs for every meal. Cheated at all board games against all opponents, regardless of age or relation. She let me wear all her jewelry, bang on every pot. She taped every episode of Clarissa Explains it All and Salute Your Shorts and My So-Called Life onto VHS tape, paused out the commercials, and wrote the episode descriptions on little slips of bank paper that she attached to each tape with a rubberband. Her purse was an endless source of quarters for skeeball at Aladdin’s Castle. Her refrigerator was an endless source of muenster cheese. Every time I yelled, “Grandma, watch this!” from the pool, Grandma watched. She taught me how to play cards, how to cook on the stove, how to be a feminist. I look like her, I talk like her, I swear like her, and I hope someday I can be a Grandma just like her. She sharpened her tongue every morning until her last day, and her wit will echo in my heart until mine.


Friday, in a private ceremony, my grandma’s urn will be placed in a niche with her husband in the mausoleum at Calumet Park. Today, I wrote this obituary to be published in each of the newspapers that my Grandmother read daily:

“Irene Nolan, age 87, beloved mother and grandmother, passed away Friday, July 31, 2015 in LaPorte, IN. Born in 1927, she worked alongside her family in their restaurants, The Savoy and The Grand in Gary, IN. She worked many years at Peter Eckrich& Sons and United States Steel before retiring to LaPorte, IN with her daughter and family. As an avid reader and vibrant conversationalist, she loved a good story. She enjoyed film, especially westerns; sneaking table food to dogs; singing anytime, anywhere; hot dogs for lunch, and her independence. She is survived by her daughter, Nancy (Michael) Straka; two grandchildren: John Straka and Amy Straka (Matthew) Waters; sister, Lula Drake; brother, Gustie (Elsie) Cougias and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, Chappie Nolan; parents, James and Nancy Cougias; and brother James Cougias. A private memorial will take place at the mausoleum at Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville, IN.”


Many people have asked tho whom they could make a donation in honor of my grandmother. She loved to read. We spent countless hours together at the library. If you’d like to make a donation in her name, simply mail a check to LaPorte County Public Library, 904 Indiana Avenue, La Porte, IN 46350 with “Donation in Honor of Irene Nolan” in the memo. Thank you for your thoughts and support.

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