RENSSELAERVILLE – As an accountant, dancer, and fighter for what is right, Irene S. Tanner had a good sense of balance.
She was promoted through the ranks of the New York State Division for Youth, and of the American Legion Auxiliary to become department president. And she raised a family.
She died on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, at St. Peter’s Hospital after a sudden illness. She was 87.
Mrs. Tanner was born on May 12, 1925 at home in Livingstonville, to Orlando and Ida Fancher Scoville. Mrs. Tanner’s father owned a mercantile store, where his granddaughter, Candace Ruland, said her mother’s watchful eye for finances was honed.
She graduated from Middlburgh High School and worked at an Army depot in Schenectady as a young woman.
Mrs. Ruland suspects her parents met at one of the most popular social gatherings in the area: the Livingstonville dance hall on a Saturday night, where her grandmother ran food concessions.
“They would go from Catskill out to Livingstonville and dance the night away,” she said.
Niles C. Tanner, her husband, had just returned from World War II’s Pacific Theater, working as a plank man on the U.S. North Carolina.
The Tanners formed the “N&I Express” trucking company, using the intials of their first names, after getting married. Mr. Tanner would work with Mrs. Tanner’s brother, Raymond Scoville, trucking freight, while she handled the bookkeeping.
“Before I became a parent, I thought they should be more involved in my life than they were….Now I realize what a gift they gave me, because they weren’t so darn involved and had to know every little dissected thing that we did,” said Mrs. Ruland. Her mother was independent, Mrs. Ruland said, and she described her as a “strong woman,” and a “fighter for what’s right.”
After raising her family, Mrs. Tanner worked at Camp Cass, a juvenile detention center in Rensselaerville, for the New York State Division for Youth.
“I can remember the day that [Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller broke ground for it, because the whole town was up there,” Ruland said. “When it was in its heyday, it was a really good program. And she really enjoyed working there.”
Mrs. Tanner won awards for her work and was promoted to the central office in Albany. She retired in the early 1990s as assistant supervisor of finance.
Mrs. Ruland said deficits and mishandled budgets bothered her mother.
“She would have to go out with their business agent if their bookwork wasn’t coming back right, to get them on track,” her daughter said of Mrs. Tanner’s work with Division for Youth institutions.
Outside of her accounting career, Mrs. Tanner was involved in the Tri-Town Veterans of Foreign Wars Post Auxiliary, the Rensselaerville Seniors, and helped at the Helderberg Seniors Meal Site at the Hiawatha Grange in Westerlo.
She served in many offices of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Rensselaerville, the Clarke White Unit #589 of the American Legion Auxiliary, and she served with the Albany County Board of Elections up until the most recent primaries for 2012.
“If she didn’t die yesterday, she would be at the conference in Albany,” Mrs. Ruland said Tuesday, referring to the American Legion winter conference this weekend.
The Tanner house is full of file cabinets documenting American Legion Auxiliary history. Mrs. Ruland said her mother kept and filed innumerable documents. History was important to her.
“If someone called her, she would find the answer for it,” said Mrs. Ruland.
Mrs. Tanner served as state department president for the auxiliary in 1980 and ’81.
The church, the juvenile detention center, and the auxiliary were defining aspects of Mrs. Tanner’s full life.
“That people keep these things alive and going. That they are a very important part of our communities. That would bother her. People weren’t carrying it on and keeping it going,” said Mrs. Ruland.
She is survived by her daughter, Candace Ruland, and her husband, Ralph; her daughter-in-law, Christine Tanner Yarno; her grandchildren, Travis and Heather Ruland; and many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.
In addition to her parents, Mrs. Tanner’s son, Richard G. Tanner, died before her, as well as her husband, Niles C. Tanner, and her brother, Raymond Scoville.
Calling hours are today, Jan. 24, from 4 to 7 p.m. at A.J. Cunningham Funeral Home, 4898 State Route 81, Greenville, where the Clarke White Unit # 589 of the American Legion Auxiliary will conduct a service at 6:30 p.m. The funeral will be Friday, Jan. 25, at 11 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church in Rensselaerville. Burial will be conducted privately in the spring.
Mourners may visit ajcunninghamfh.com.
Memorial donations may be made to Trinity Episcopal Church, Trinity Lane, Rensselaerville, NY 12147, the Rensselaerville Ambulance Squad, 380 Fox Creek Rd, Medusa, NY 12120, or the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation, 8945 North Meridian St., Second Floor, Indianapolis, IN. 46260.
— Marcello Iaia