PITTSBURG — Irma “Tookie” (Hoefling) Hawley, 86, of Pittsburg passed peacefully at 3:50 p.m. Tuesday, July 9, 2019, at Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg with her family surrounding her. Cause of death was congestive heart failure.
Irma was born in 1933 in Parsons the youngest of three children of Norma (Lundquist) and Raymond Hoefling. Sisters Evelyn (Hoefling) Helmick of Wichita and Shell Knob, Missouri, and LaVon (Hoefling) Canerdy of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, and brother Ray “Bud” Hoefling of McAlester, Oklahoma, preceded her in death.
Irma graduated from Parsons High School in 1951 and Parsons Junior College in 1953. 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 11 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 56 wonderful years together before he passed in 2010.
Irma adored children, and after her own two started school, she decided to pursue a career in teaching. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1966 and Master of Science degree in 1969 in elementary education at Kansas State Teachers College (now Pittsburg State University). For 24 years she taught third and fourth grades in Arma, Lakeside School in Pittsburg and in Grove, Oklahoma.
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 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, California; grandson Kristopher Hawley and granddaughter-in-law Molly (O’Malley) Hawley of Jacksonville, Florida; sister and brother-in-law Carol (Hawley) and Gerald Hoffman of Grove, Oklahoma; 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 at First United Methodist Church with the Rev. Mark Chambers officiating. Private family burial will follow be at a later date. The family will receive friends from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Brenner Mortuary, Pittsburg.
Memorials are suggested to First United Methodist Church and may be left at or mailed to Brenner Mortuary, 114 E. Fourth St., Pittsburg, KS 66762.
Friends may leave condolences online at www.brennermortuary.com.