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Irene Silliman, age 87, of Madison, Ohio, passed away Thursday, February 21, 2013 at Cardinal Woods Skilled Nursing and Rehab in Madison, Ohio. She was born January 5, 1926 in Champaign, Illinois to Matilda (Hettinger) & Sam Meeks.

Irene was the original founder of Operation Toasty Toes. She began the organization in 1997, when a grandson serving in the U.S. Navy requested her homemade slippers for he and his shipmates. She started knitting slippers and recruited her friends to help. From there, the organization has grown today to 21 Chapters across the United States and Canada. In 1998 she was honored in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Steven LaTourette as a "true patriot" devoted to her country and the well-being of our servicemen and women. She had also been employed and active at the Perry Outdoor YMCA Center. Irene enjoyed traveling to flea markets with her husband selling her jewelry creations.

She is survived by sons, Richard (Kay Kindice) Ward of Chagrin Falls, Robert (Trudy) Ward of Austinburg; 8 Grandchildren; 4 Great Grandchildren; sister, Jackie Fassaso of Chicago; many close friends, and "Tommy-Boy."

She was preceded in death by 1st husband, Ernest Ward Jr.; 2nd husband, Robert Silliman; daughter, Linda Ward; son, Dennis Ward; her parents; 1 brother, and 2 sisters.

No visitation will be observed. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Hospice of the Western Reserve, 17876 St. Clair Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44110-2602.

The Behm Family Funeral Homes, 26 River Street, Madison, Ohio is entrusted with arrangements.