Irene Sykes Wade lived her nearly century-long life in Mebane, becoming a fixture of kindheartedness in the town. Born the first of ten children to Odell and Lacy Sykes on June 3, 1926, Irene Wade passed away late Monday evening in her home at the age of 92.
For her, life’s joys were synonymous with family meals. And as her family grew so too did her renown as a cook, as did the reputations of her poppy seed chicken and sweet potato casserole.
Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have never known a Christmas without a coconut cake, one pineapple cake and two batters of homemade fudge – one dark chocolate, the other butterscotch.
After graduating Mebane High School, she married Andrew “Jack” Wade, Feb. 27, 1947, but maintained that there’d be no childbearing until her young husband purchased a suitable house in which to raise any potential offspring. He quickly secured a mortgage.
The newlyweds moved into their home on Third Street, had two boys and never moved out, remaining married for 53 years until Jack Wade’s passing in 2000.
Avid athletes, her sons spent their childhood afternoons playing ball on fields and courts. Both men can still – easily – recall their mother’s voice sounding through the neighborhood as she’d step out and onto the back porch, crack open the storm door and holler them home. They’d come running.
Oftentimes, the boys would bring friends in tow. Ahead of many of those in her time, Irene Wade never refused a seat at her table to anyone.
She was a spiritual woman, and always professed her love of Jesus. Irene Wade was a lifelong member of the Mebane Methodist Church.
Family members gravitated to her home for nourishment, love and counsel.
“She made me feel like a daughter,” said a daughter-in-law, who’d lost her own mother in infancy.
Irene Wade bridged the generations with grace and ease. “She would sit and listen to you no matter what,” a granddaughter said.
Once when in need of advice, the granddaughter asked Irene Wade to accompany her out to eat.
“I already made me a bite,” Irene Wade said. “But, I’ll sit with you.”
Seated in a booth, the grandmother reached into her handbag and pulled out a homemade egg salad sandwich and gave her granddaughter the following guidance:
“Listen to what other people are going to say and nod along. Say to them, ‘Yeah. Mmhn. Yeah. Mmhn.’ And then, do what you want to do anyway.”
Irene Wade is survived by her brother James Sykes, her sisters Mary Elizabeth Neil, Mary Alice Pore, Ruby Martin and Betty Jean Sykes, her sons Andrew Jackson “Andy” Wade II and Ronnie Wade, her daughter-in-law Marsha Warren Wade, her grandchildren Ryan Wade Martin, Andrew Warren Wade, Beth Wade and Cheri Wade, and her great-grandchildren Nora Martin, Emma Wade and Jack Martin.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her brothers Harvey Sykes and Alfred Sykes and her sisters Florine Efland and Lois Thompson.
A service will be held Friday, March 1, 2019 at 3:00 PM at Mebane United Methodist Church. Officiating will be Reverend Johnny Wright. Burial will follow in Oakwood Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the church from 2:00 PM until 3:00 PM prior to the service. Memorials may be made to Mebane United Methodist Church General Fund, 200 S. 4th Street, Mebane, NC 27302.
Online condolences may be sent at www.mcclurefuneralservice.net