Irma Wittke Glidden
Irma Wittke was born in Wausau, Wisconsin, December 19, 1904, of immigrant parents, Nellie Swanson from Sweden and Karl Wittke from Germany. It was likely Karl’s estrangement from his family that fueled Irma’s creation of strong family bonds throughout her life.
Motivated and diligent, during high school Irma worked as a piano accompanist for dance classes and in the high school library to earn money for college. She attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison, graduating in 1927 with a degree in French. Upon graduation she was hired as DeKalb High School librarian where she also taught French and English. She was beloved by her students and maintained ties to many of them in later years.
Upon her marriage to Carter Glidden, son of John and grandnephew of Joseph, in 1941, Irma became a devoted, full-time wife. Her natural congeniality was an obvious asset as she joined the Glidden household, which included Carter’s mother, Mabel, and his sister, Jessie. Mabel, declaring that three women should not be expected to share a kitchen, had a second kitchen built in the north section of the parlor for herself and Jessie to use. Irma became beloved not only by Mabel and Jessie, but also by brother Nansen’s family who lived next door and other relatives, whom Irma often entertained royally with marvelous hospitality and delicious meals.
Irma worked in the Glidden Greenhouse family business during busy times and was a talented floral designer. She was appreciated for preparing sumptuous meals for employees on busy holiday weekends. Irma joined the other ladies in the family in harvesting and processing bountiful produce grown by Carter and Nansen, gardeners extraordinaire, from the rich homestead soils. Irma perfected her abilities as jam, jelly and chutney maker, enjoyed by many as gifts.
Irma resumed her librarian career in 1959 when she was asked to organize the new Learning Center at the then DeKalb Junior High School (now Huntley Middle School). She enjoyed those years so much she stayed until retirement in 1970.
As a longtime member of United Methodist Church in DeKalb, Irma truly lived her religious beliefs through extensive family and community involvement. She actively participated in Drama Club, Egyptian Theatre preservation, Ellwood House Association, and Thursday Arts. She was a charter member of American Association of University Women and PEO, a women’s philanthropic organization. She was remembered as giving excellent programs and book reports, as well as for being a marvelous club hostess.
Favorite activities of Irma and Carter were dancing to Guy Lombardo vintage music and playing a good game of bridge or hearts. After annual family Thanksgiving dinners, Irma provided music for the traditional Virginia Reel dance in the homestead parlor. She delighted in having the whole family together and made holiday times memorable with her meals, music, and love. She died peacefully in 1986 at the homestead at age 82 of cardiovascular disorders.