Irene Eva Bachelder 1959 ~ 2021
Irene Eva Bachelder, age 61, died peacefully at home in Kenwood, CA, on Sunday, March 21, 2021 after a life-and-love-filled two-year struggle with breast cancer. In her last few weeks, she and spouse Tom were supported lovingly by visiting friends and family. Their four sons and family (Christopher Bachelder and children Paxton & Natasha of Boardman, OH, Geoffrey (Aga) Bachelder of Long Beach, CA, Matthew (Kendra) Bachelder of Middleton, WI, Evan Bachelder (partner Alexandra Apodaca) were able to spend over two weeks together with Irene and Tom. Taking strong health safety precautions, they were able to share quality time together; making cooked meals, going on walks, sharing stories, and recounting special memories as they looked over family photos. Irene died just 31 hours after saying goodbye to her grandchildren. With the preparation and guidance of close friends, Irene’s body was enshrined for visitation for three days in their home, allowing friends and extended family to share their own connections with Irene’s husband and children.
The daughter of hard-working Croatian immigrants William and Donna (Cenzer) Geiser, Irene was born near, and shared her early years in, Monrovia, CA, with her parents and older sister Loretta. After the family relocated to Santa Rosa, CA, in 1975, Irene graduated from Montgomery High School in 1978.
Irene and Tom met in Santa Rosa through a Catholic adult ministry program in 1978, and established their bond during interactions as counselors in a wilderness camp program for youth of the Redwood Empire on the Eel River in Humboldt County, the former Camp St. Michael.
They were married August 30, 1981, in Santa Rosa, and moved to the Valley of the Moon. Over the next decades, Irene birthed and they raised four sons together.
Irene completed Santa Rosa Junior College’s rigorous Psychiatric Technician certificate program while working at Sonoma Developmental Center in Glen Ellen. Her creativity and commitment to serving those in her care were clearly evident, especially as she next transitioned to SDC’s Adaptive Engineering department, where she modified and fabricated custom seating and safety hardware to accommodate the special needs of individual SDC residents. She found her work to be deeply rewarding and she shared the joy of improving the lives of others with her friends and family.
In early 2019, after more than 30 years serving the SDC community, Irene retired due to a decline in health and was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer after a dozen years being symptom-free.
Irene and her family were long-time members of St Leo’s Catholic parish in the Agua Caliente neighborhood of Sonoma.
Her faith was evident in the many ways she served others, be it in her work at SDC, volunteering on service trips to El Salvador with Seeds of Learning, donating her time and small goods to local organizations, or with her joyous participation for 12 years in the Emmaus Community of Northern California.
Irene loved music, photography, gardening, home-cooked food and quality time with friends and family.
Irene was preceded in death by her parents William and Donna (Cenzer) Geiser, her uncle Zvonko Geiser, grandmother Ana Marosi, and her cousin Tom Sinishtaj.
She is survived by her husband Thomas Bachelder of Kenwood, and their family, her sister Loretta Geiser, and many nephews, nieces, cousins and relatives.
As Irene ardently loved nature and gardening, the family welcomes donations for funding a memorial bench to be installed at Sonoma Botanical Gardens in Glen Ellen or in support of Redwood Adventure Camp (see website www.IreneBachelder.com for more information).
The family is forever grateful for the over two years of additional time together following the beginning of her declining health. During that time, Irene savored every opportunity to be with loved ones, both in-person and remotely via video. With the steadfast care of family and the support of the Kaiser oncologist Dr. Ye and Kaiser Palliative Care, and then the Memorial Hospice team, Irene achieved a beautiful end to a most humble and dignified life. She will always be with us and forever cherished in our hearts and memories.
Information about Irene’s Memorial Celebration can be found at www.IreneBachelder.com.