MEMORIAL: In Memory of Irma Bunch, a Neighborhood Icon for Burien
by Shawn Underwood
Irma Bunch was kind of like the “welcome lady” for those of us who lived near Three Tree Point and Gregory Heights.
When we had our first child, we asked a neighbor friend if she knew of a small and loving daycare near by.
“Have you tried Irma?” she said.
Irma ran a loving, efficient and reasonably priced daycare out of her basement and she was in charge of the Boy Scout Clubhouse. She collected annual dues for the clubhouse and took reservations for overnight stays. It wasn’t just for Boy Scouts but anyone could camp there. Heck, I wanted to camp there though I never did. My husband preferred camping in the rain with a holey tent but I digress.
Everyone loved Irma. First off, she was a kind soul and was interested in all of her client’s lives. Not that she didn’t have a very busy life herself but I never picked up any of my three kids without spending a good 10-15 minutes chatting with Irma. She knew whose birthday was coming up and which relatives were coming to visit for one of her “kids” first birthdays. She knew which high schools and colleges her kids attended and she had a lot of kids and a memory like an elephant. She knew who was pregnant and who was moving out of the neighborhood. She was the source of all knowledge.
She never really slowed down even when she retired from the daycare business to take care of her brother Marvin—he was from the south where he and Irma grew up. But a bit about Marvin because after awhile I thought of he and Irma as a matched pair. The first time I met Marvin I brought my new puppy Gus with me. Some of you may know him now as “Mr. Big” but anyway; Marvin asked me “what kind of dog you got there?” I told him of Gus’s fine pedigree as Gus looked for a place to wet the carpet. Marvin then waxed poetic about the hunting prowess of his old hound dog, Juniper. (Can’t believe I remembered that hound dogs name!) Years following, a visit with Irma meant, “hound dog” talk with Marvin and Gus enjoyed it as much as I did as he sat on Marvin’s lap receiving constant pets. But back to Irma.
Irma had a Halloween party for her “kids” every year. My kids pestered me for days before Halloween about visiting Irma’s for trick or treat. She had cake. She had candy. She had surprises. I think she even took pictures of kiddies Halloween costumes and funny thing was that though the kids grew taller and lost baby fat from year to year—Irma never aged.
Irma never charged a fee for late parents. I know because I was late a few times. Only a few. Just saying. She understood the lives of working parents and the role she filled. She filled a vital role for me when my oldest child was a baby.
I was hospitalized for three-four months during my second pregnancy. We had one eight-month child at home who sporadically went to Irma’s. My husband worked during the day and baby Austin spent his formative first year with Irma. Irma—bless her heart would call me as I “rested” in my hospital room and ask about extra food for my very large hungry baby. I dithered and she made the decision. The point was that she tried to include me in something I was missing. I’ll never forget that because now she is someone I’m missing.
RIP Irma. All of your “kids” are better off for having known you…
UPDATE: Click here to read Irma’s Obituary.
A Memorial for Irma will be held Friday, Aug 24, 2012, starting at 1 p.m. at Bonney-Watson Washington Memorial, 16445 International Blvd., SeaTac, Washington 98126; 206-242-1787.