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Obituary: Theresa Irene Polley


April 19, 2019

Theresa Irene Polley (nee Gleason) passed away Tuesday April 16, 2019 at the age of 92.

She was born April 4, 1927 to William and Exillia (Demers) Gleason, the eldest girl in a family of 11 children in Cloquet. She married Edward "Pete" Polley in August 1949. In addition to caring for her ailing parents, an undomesticated husband and six unruly children, she also worked for the Wood Conversion Co. during World War II, then for S&L and Dr. Butler. Irene and Pete enjoyed their retirement together traveling the world; her favorite trips found her tracing her genealogy through Europe and visiting Australia and New Zealand. She and Pete also spent many lovely years wintering with friends in Yuma, Ariz.

Irene often credited her longevity to staying active. Not only did she walk two miles a day until almost 90, she was also a very involved member of the Queen of Peace Parish and Lady Foresters, and Holy Angels Circle. She was also a fledgling entrepreneur, selling and teaching the macramé arts, enjoyed gardening, and was prolific in her needlepoint masterpieces covering every wall in her home (to the pride/dismay of her daughter Judy.) She was always "up before the chickens" cleaning, cooking, baking, reading and enjoying some well-earned peace and quiet.

She showed her affection in many ways, most notably through her endless culinary contributions, her under-the-radar, yet biting sarcastic wit, and by instilling a strong sense of family and tradition. When asked to pass along her famous recipes she would not give precise measurements but instead instructed to "mix and add until it feels right." She loved being around babies and supplying them with endless amounts of sugar, a tradition she carried on with her great- and great-great-grandchildren. There was nothing she and Pete enjoyed more than having their family together.

Irene was preceded in death by her husband and many loved ones. She will be greatly missed by her siblings Jeanne Sell, Maryann Baumann, and James Gleason, as well as her children Wayne Polley, Rita (Fred) Erickson, Anne (Ron) Anderson, Keith Polley, Judith Polley, and Jason Polley; six grandchildren, Glen (Lynette) Anderson, Jennifer Collelo, Greg Anderson, Michael Anderson, Seth (Heather) Polley, and Shannon (Ben) Swegle; 10 great-grandchildren and one great-great-granddaughter; and many adored nieces and nephews.

The family would like to extend gratitude to the staff at Solvay Hospice House for the support and care during the last weeks of Irene's life. In lieu of flowers, Irene's family is asking for memorials to be made in her name to either Queen of Peace Parish or Solvay Hospice House.

Please join us in celebrating the life of our family's beloved North Star.

Visitation: 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, April 23 at Nelson Funeral Care with a Rosary Service at 6:30 p.m. Visitation will resume at 10 a.m., until the 11 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial on Wednesday, April 24 at Queen of Peace Catholic Church. Interment service will be at New Calvary Cemetery. A luncheon will follow in the church social hall.

To leave an online condolence, visit the guest book at

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