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In Memory

Irmel Louise Williams Fagan, former physical education and dance instructor, died July 28

Irmel Louise Williams Fagan gently passed away at her Fort Collins home on Wednesday, July 28, 2010. Irmel was the Director of Physical Education for Women at CSU and was instrumental in the development of the Dance program. She also met many wonderful lifetime friends at Colorado State University.

Spent 22 years at CSU

Irmel's life spanned nearly a century of significant change in our country. She rode a horse and buggy to school, bathed in a tub on the front porch, rode in one of the first mass produced automobiles, lived through the Great Depression, witnessed the results of many wars, viewed men landing on the moon, and saw incredible advancements in technology and science. She truly was one of "The Greatest Generation".

Irmel was born on her family's farm near Tabor, Iowa in October, 1913, to Alfred and Emma Williams. As a young child, she developed a deep love of the outdoors and animals. This love of nature and animals remained with her for life. Her stories of the farm were a vivid description of rural America at that time.

The family sold the farm and moved to Lincoln, Neb., when Irmel was eight. It was in Lincoln that she lived through the Great Depression. The Depression had a deep impact on her. This was when Irmel truly learned the meaning of "make do". She never forgot the hardships and the lessons learned.

Irmel attended and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in physical education with an emphasis in dance. Upon graduation from college, her first teaching job was in Scotia, Neb. Irmel also taught at Kansas State University in Manhattan, and at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. During this time, she participated in advanced studies in dance at Bennington College in Vermont and the University of Wisconsin. Her favorite style of dance was "modern", and during her life she had the opportunity to work with several famous modern dancers of the time.

She eventually began teaching at the junior college in McCook, Neb. There she met and eventually married, Robert L. Fagan. They spent the early years of their marriage in New Orleans, La., where Bob was involved in the military during World War II. Their first son was born in New Orleans.

After the war, they moved to Estes Park, Colo., where they co-owned and operated Longs Peak Inn along with several other family members. They had four other children during the time spent at the inn. Irmel enjoyed living in the mountains as an innkeeper. She met many colorful characters and good friends who remained so the rest of her life.

When the inn was sold, the family moved to Lakewood, Colo., so Bob could complete law school at the University of Denver. During this time, Irmel returned to teaching at Jefferson High School in Edgewater. In January of 1956, Bob died suddenly of heart disease.

Instrumental in development of CSU Dance program

With five children to raise, Irmel moved to Fort Collins where she had been offered a position at Colorado State University (Colorado A&M). She spent 22 years at CSU, first as a physical education and dance teacher. It was during this time that she attended the University of Northern Colorado (Colorado State College) and graduated with her Master's degree. After the retirement of Miss Elizabeth Forbes, Irmel became Director of Physical Education for Women at CSU until her retirement. It was during this time that Irmel fully developed the dance program. Again, at CSU, she met many wonderful lifetime friends.

Retirement years kept Irmel busy. A big achievement in her seventies was helping to build the family cabin, hoisting logs by hand with her son and daughter-in-law. She also worked part time as a receptionist at a local dance studio until her mid eighties.

Irmel was an avid reader and read an encyclopedia or a western novel as readily as a history book. Her hobbies included sewing, knitting, and braiding rugs until she developed macular degeneration which prevented her from doing these favorite things. Keeping up with television news and the newspaper were important to her, and she was always willing to discuss current events.

Irmel was a woman whose life revolved around her family. A Christian woman with Christian beliefs, she was a stabilizing force as she raised her family. A strong sense of traditions and solid values were instilled in her children. Irmel was a woman of high integrity and love. Although never spoken by Irmel, she lived by the borrowed expression, "If it's not true, don't say it, and if it's not right, don't do it". She truly touched all who knew her. Irmel was deeply loved and will be sorely missed.

Irmel was preceded in death by her parents, three siblings, husband, Robert, and eldest son, Robert W. Fagan. She is survived by a son, Sean (Laura) and daughters, Bridget Nichols (Bill), Shannon Argentati (Rico), and Shelagh. She is also survived by five grandchildren; Colin Shea Fagan Sweet (and his mother, Ginger Shea Fagan Sweet (Jim), William L. Nichols (Christie), Angela Argentati, Caitlin Jones (who lovingly lived and cared for Irmel before her marriage to Josh), Donnica Fagan (Ben) and one great-grandson, Blaine D'Arcey.

The family would like to express deep gratitude to Beth, Lori and Nova, Irmel's loving, loyal caretakers for the past two years. Their unbelievable dedication and dignified treatment of Irmel will never be forgotten. They made a great team. Thank you, Benori.

In addition, we would like to thank Pathways Hospice for their support and care during mom's last months.

In lieu of flowers, please adopt a pet, or give to an animal charity of your choice. Irmel will look down and smile.

Memorial Service Aug. 3

A Memorial Service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 3 in the Allnutt Drake Reception Center.

Please visit to sign the family guest book and send condolences.

Originally published in the Coloradoan, July 31, 2010.