We gather today to pay final tribute to a phenomenal woman, mother, fiancée, grandmother, sister, aunt, niece, cousin and friend.
Irene (Joyner) Griggs was born on June 6, 1943 in Jersey City, New Jersey, and was the first of five children born to Otis and Helen Joyner.
Irene was a product of the Jersey City Public School system, having attended P. S. #22 School and Lincoln High School. After graduating high school, she became employed for Bell Atlantic in Jersey City, where she met her best friend Altheria Johnson. They shared a special bond and relationship, until Altheria’s untimely passing. Irene worked with great dedication for Bell Atlantic for 36 years, until her retirement.
Irene met and married John Griggs, and from that union, they were blessed with a son, John Ivan Griggs. John remained the apple of Irene’s eye. Later becoming a single parent, it was Irene’s pleasure to work hard and provide her son John with a good upbringing.
Irene later met and lived a loving life with Will “Monroe” Pair for over 45 years; until her death. Monroe cared diligently and compassionately for his “shorty-girl” throughout her illness, and was there loving and caring for her until she took her last breath on this side of heaven.
On August 18, 1990, Irene expressed that she had not lost a son, but had gained a daughter, when her son John married Catherine Smith from East Orange, NJ. From this union, Irene was blessed with her newest and most cherished title, which was “Ganny” to her 2 grandsons, John Dominique and Malcolm Xavier; who were the pride and joy of her life.
Due to her unprecedented work ethic Irene did not remain in retirement for long, and found her true calling later in life as she opened up her heart and home to love, babysit, and care for countless numbers of children. Affectionately called “Auntie”, both babysitting and baking quickly became her new passions, and filled her home and life. Irene was well known for her unique and tasty bread puddings and baked goods, and she won many awards for them.
Irene accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior at Metropolitan AME Church in Jersey City, and later accepted the right hand of fellowship at Monumental Baptist Church in Jersey City. There, Irene served as part of the Willing Workers, and also with great dedication as the President of the Nursing Ministry for several years, until her health began to fail.
Irene departed this life on Friday, April 17, 2015 in the love and comfort of her own home.
Irene leaves to cherish her son John (Catherine) of Piscataway, NJ, her fiancée Will “Monroe” Pair of Jersey City, NJ, her grandchildren John Dominique and Malcolm Xavier of Piscataway, NJ, two great grandchildren Jahara and Laila, Goddaughter Tonique Joyner of Jersey City, NJ, two nieces, five nephews, one aunt Elsie Joyner of Philadelphia, PA, and one sister in law, Viola Joyner of Jersey City, NJ. Irene also shared a special bond with her 4 “bonus” sister-in-laws and 6 brother-in-laws, through her loving relationship with Will Pair. Irene also leaves to cherish a host of grand nieces, grand nephews, cousins, family and friends.
Irene was preceded in death by her parents Otis and Helen Joyner, and three sisters, Delores Brown, Brenda Joyner and Dorothy Edwards, and one brother, Otis Joyner.