Ilene Elaine Gillen was born on March 30, 1936, in Rugby, ND to Invald “Inky” B. Iverson and Lena A. Iverson and passed away on April 29, 2023, following complications from a short illness. Ilene worked for Boeing at several different locations in the United States before meeting her husband, Elwin “Gil” G. Gillen in Grand Forks. They were married on October 25, 1960. They traveled to Germany with the military and eventually settled in Great Falls, MT in 1970. Ilene worked civil service at Malmstrom AFB in the TMO office until her retirement in the mid 1990s.
Ilene enjoyed supporting her husband, and then son, at the Stock Car Races for many years. She belonged to the GF Stock Car Racing Women’s Auxiliary in the 1970s. She and Gil spent many years at their cabin at Holter Lake fishing off their pontoon boat every weekend and enjoying time with close friends, Ray and Martha. They also enjoyed trips to Deadwood, SD and Laughlin, NV for some sightseeing and gambling multiple times a year. Ilene spent a lot of time with her good friend and neighbor, Mary Bessette, who stayed close and visited her right up until the end.
After her husband passed away in 2013, Ilene went to live at the Eagles to be closer to several of her long-time friends. It was there she met her best friend, Arlee. The two were inseparable and loved finding mischief. Known as The Divas by the local bar patrons, they could always be counted on to make you laugh, tell a dirty joke or two, or even share an adult cartoon. A social lady, she enjoyed being with friends above anything else. Covid was truly a tough time for her, the isolation did more damage to her soul than any disease could have.
She loved Blackberry Brandy shots for her birthday, carrot cake and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, and spending time with her husband, son, and daughter-in-law. She lived a full life. From early on, she knew she would not be a grandmother, so Ilene had a special bond with her “grand-kitties” within her son’s animal rescue. They flocked to her, clearly loving every one of her visits. She was perfectly content with that and made sure they got special gifts on every holiday.
Survivors include her son, Rowdy Gillen and daughter-in-law Crystal Gillen of Great Falls; brother, Bernard “Buster” (Inez) Iverson of Greeley, CO; and sister, Lana Jane Ray of Springfield, VA. She had five nephews and one niece, Bob, Ron, and Kevin, all of Virginia, Tim of Colorado, Barry of Cairo, Egypt, and Tamera of Massachusetts. The extended family and friends she left behind are too numerous to count.
To read the complete obituary and share condolences, click here to visit the Schnider Funeral Home website.
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