Irene Margaret (Zavoral) Rising

Irene Margaret (Zavoral) Rising

April 4, 1923 – May 8, 2022

Age 99, of Omaha, Nebraska.  Irene was born and raised on the family farm near Grygla, Minnesota. She grew up attending a one-room schoolhouse near the family farm until high school required her and her sisters to leave home to attend.  She graduated from Red Lake High School in Red Lake, Minnesota in 1941. Irene attended the University of Minnesota for one semester.  In 1942, her patriotism drew her to California to work in an airplane parts factory and do her part as a member of the “Greatest Generation.”

After the war, Irene married James Kemerling and began a family in Kimball, Nebraska—children, Gary b.1946, Jean and Jane b.1949.  She lost her husband in a farming accident and was a single mother of three, working hard to make ends meet but being a loving and caring mother through it all.

Irene met Lee Rising in 1956 when he was working for the Chamber of Commerce in Kimball.  It did not take long before Irene, with all her charm, swept Lee off his feet.  They wed in 1958 and the family moved from Kimball to Lincoln.  In Lincoln, the family of five grew to a family of six with the addition of Mark , born in.1959. The family moved to Amarillo, Texas where the family became a family of seven with the birth of Jodi in 1963. The family lived in Amarillo for seven years before moving to Madison, Wisconsin for a brief nine months and returning to Omaha in 1969.

For the next 53 years, Omaha was home, and if being the matriarch of the family wasn’t enough, Irene also was a consultant in Mary Kay and Bodywise Vitamins for many years.  She made many special friends in these endeavors.

In July 2020, her husband Lee passed away, and Irene started a new chapter of her life at Walnut Grove Retirement Home in Omaha.  The friends she made at Walnut Grove were special, even if only for a short time.

Throughout her 99 years, Irene loved her family, friends, Nebraska football, and playing cards, in that order.  Summer vacations to Minnesota to visit family and go fishing at Lake Kabetogama will be some of her family’s most cherished memories of her.  But who can forget her for her amazing green thumb, her famous baking recipes, and the ceramics she painted, which continue to grace our homes and gardens.

Irene was the example of how being positive and happy makes life so much better.  There weren’t many occasions when she wasn’t smiling and bringing joy to people around her.   This positivity was the reason she had friends everywhere she went and made new ones along the way.

There are so many special moments and things to remember about Irene, it is difficult to compose them all in this remembrance.  She taught us so many wonderful things, especially how to love each other and the importance of family.

Renie, Momma, Grandma—we love you and will miss you dearly.  You left this world better than you found it, and the example of love and kindness you taught us all to show each other will be your lasting legacy.  We love you!

Irene is survived by her five children: Gary Kemerling of San Diego, California, Jean Hoving and husband Derk of Amarillo, Texas, Jane McCoy and husband Jim of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Mark Rising and wife Judy of Omaha, Jodi Black and husband Mark of Omaha; nine randchildren; ten great-grandchildren; brother, Jerome Zavoral; many nieces and nephews whom she loved dearly.

Irene was preceded in death by her husband, Lee; her five sisters and three brothers.

VISITATION: Saturday, May 28th from 11am to 11:30am at the West Center Chapel, followed by CELEBRATION OF LIFE at 11:30am.  To view a live broadcast of the Celebration of Life, please visit and click the “View Live Cast” button on the home page.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to TeamMates Mentoring in honor of Irene Rising. Donations may be mailed to TeamMates Mentoring 6801 “O” St., Lincoln, NE 68510, or you are welcome to give online in her honor at



  • Kathryn Aiken Posted May 14, 2022 3:28 pm

    Deepest sympathies to all on the loss of your mom!

  • Gerry Mowris Posted May 14, 2022 3:58 pm

    The last of the “Zavoral girls” is gone. How sad. Our condolences to all the family..

  • Gregory Bay Posted May 15, 2022 3:58 pm

    Jodi and family, so sad to here of your loss. My prayers are with you.
    Greg Bay

  • Tom and Cindy Slocum Posted May 17, 2022 6:37 pm

    So well said about our Aunt Irene. She was very positive, loving and giving of her plants and homemade goodies, also a great hostess. We will miss her and her sweet smile and hugs. Our
    deepest sympathies to you all.

  • Deb Posted May 22, 2022 7:34 am

    Your mom and grandmother were such a bright light here at Walnut Grove – always a kind word and a smile on her face and I’m sure she is blessing Heaven with that beautiful

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