Irene Harmonson Profile Photo
1920 Irene 2019

Irene Harmonson

October 1, 1920 — February 27, 2019

IRENE HARMONSON, 98 of Ogallala, passed away Wednesday, February 27, 2019, at Great Plains Health in North Platte.

Irene was born October 1, 1920, at Big Springs, Nebraska to Niels (Mike) and Glyde (Polley) Nielson. She graduated from Oshkosh High School with the class of 1936. Irene subsequently became a teacher and did so for many years, often in one-room rural school houses.

Irene married Ralph Harmonson on February 10, 1940. Their union was blessed with a daughter, Carolyn. Irene and Ralph worked in ranching for many years together, with Irene supporting Ralph and his team by providing meals in a chuckwagon. In 1949, the couple moved to Ogallala where Ralph owned a cattle trucking business and Irene worked at the Ogallala Livestock Auction. Later Irene opened a fabric shop, and another in North Platte. She owned Irene's Fabric Shop for twelve years, eventually selling the business and opening The Linen Shop & Sewing Machine Center. She opened a corresponding store, The Bath & Linen Shoppe, in North Platte shortly thereafter. Irene's energy and vibrancy were apparent to those who spent much time with her. She was a wealth of ideas and worked tirelessly to see them come to fruition. Whether it was promoting her business, the community, or serving her church, Irene was passionate about the things she loved. Irene created an event known as the Fashion Fabricanza, which was a retail event that brought many people to Ogallala over the two years she orchestrated it and was even featured in a couple of magazines. Perhaps her most well-known promotional brainchild was Fantasyland, which was a holiday attraction that drew over 20,000 people to town over the years.

Irene was the originator of the Chuck Wagon Breakfast, which took place during the Keith County Fair and Rodeo and is a tradition that continues today. She was also the first woman nominated to the Ogallala Chamber of Commerce board of directors, twice serving as president of the Women's Division of the Chamber. She was also honored as the Nebraska State Retailer of the Year in 1980. The very next year, Irene was honored with the Ogallala Business & Professional Women's "Woman of Achievement Award." Most recently, Irene had been the recipient of the "Woman of the Rose" honor from the Ogallala Beta Sigma Phi Sorority.

As time passed, Irene's priorities changed, but her passion didn't. She steadily became more active in her church, which became a very significant part of her life. She created the Ogallala United Methodist Church event known as Fun Fest, which has been an annual occurrence over the last ten years. She was also a mainstay in the kitchen for countless church dinners over the years.

Irene lived a unique and remarkable life that was a special blessing to her family. She was a bright and shining example of so many things: love, work ethic, passion, faith, and creativity. Irene's presence will indeed be missed, but the light she brought into this life will be cherished and celebrated.

Irene was preceded in death by her husband, Ralph; three brothers, Arley, Glenn, and an infant brother; four sisters, Iona Schaffer, Ilene Wolford, Rosie Zorn, and Esther Norwood.

Survivors include her daughter, Carolyn Ross of North Platte; two granddaughters, Brenda (Tony) Ketcham of Ogallala and Lisa (Jeff) Morris of Centennial, CO; four great-grandchildren, Abigail Ketcham of Central Point, OR, Maddie Ketcham of Ogallala, Ellie Morris and Carson Morris both of Centennial, CO; two sisters, Inez Cohen of Beaverton, OR and Gladys (Larry) Benzing of Longview, TX; and many nieces and nephews.

Memorials are suggested to the First United Methodist Church in Ogallala. Condolences can be shared at A live stream of the service can be viewed at

Funeral services will be Thursday, March 7, 2019 at 10:30a.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Ogallala with Rev. Chuck Rager officiating. Burial will be in the Ogallala Cemetery.

Visitation will be Wednesday, from 1:00p.m. to 6:00p.m. at Prairie Hills Funeral Home.

Prairie Hills Funeral Home of Ogallala, NE is in charge of arrangements.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Irene Harmonson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Starts at 1:00 pm (Central time)

Prairie Hills Funeral Home

602 N Spruce St, Ogallala, NE 69153

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