Irene Chew, age 67, passed away peacefully in her sleep on Friday, March 10, 2017 at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital after a short illness. She was a devoted wife, step-mother, sister, daughter, aunt and beloved friend who will be missed by many. She was predeceased by her husband, Morris F. Seitz, her sister Alice Len Chew, and her parents, Ham Din Chew and Betty Chan Chew. She is survived by her three brothers, Richard (Marion), Philip (Maureen-deceased), and Robert (Clara), sister-in-law Lillian, step-son Steve, numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews and countless friends.
Irene was a life-long New Yorker who was born on June 20, 1949 in New York City. Her earliest years were spent in and around New York City. She graduated from the City College of New York on 1971 and her first working experiences were as a bookkeeper for an Austrian steel company and a premier jewelry company in the City. These humble beginnings barely hinted at the varied and rich life that she eventuallyhad. In her youth, she was a free spirit who traveled throughout Europe, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Russia, and Central America. She encountered many hardships on these journeys but she was happy to count a trip on the TransSiberian Railway among her accomplishments.
Back in New York, she eventually met her future husband Morris and they started the first of several businesses, a newspaper and gift store. These ventures were the backdrop for her creative spirit. She was a talented dressmaker, accomplished painter, pianist, and lover of classical jazz. During this period, she became proficient in Japanese dancing and she performed with her dance troupe at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington, DC. When she and Morris shifted their energies to a running a Kosher deli, she turned her energies to mastering the Kosher recipes. Although she was Chinese, her offerings in the deli became sought-after delicacies.
The next phase of her life centered around comic books and comic book collectibles. She and Morris opened the Court Street Comics and Collectibles in White Plains, NY. They provided creative framing and collectible art associated with cartoons and comic books. This business eventually became Comic Book Heaven, a place where comic book addicts and hobbyists found a second home.
Life took a sudden turn in the late 90’s when Morris was diagnosed with a terminal illness. This was a time when she blossomed into a devoted caregiver who lovingly nursed Morris. When her mother had a stroke in 2006, Irene generously gave up her independent life to move back into her childhood home and care for her ailing parent.Later, she was forced to shift her caregiving duties to her sister Alice during the last months of Alice’s illness.
Throughout this time, she continued her self-growth by taking on new activities and new adventures. She developed a love of gardening and had the prettiest flowers on the block. She adopted a stray dog whom she named Clark Kent after her hero Superman. Clark became her beloved companion who inspired a new love for dogs. She even took on the challenge of a hiking trip to Machu Picchu. With her childhood friend Ping, she journeyed to Peru and endured a 40 km. hike through the mountains. Although she and Ping were the “old people” in their group of youngsters in their 20’s and 30’s, she never complained about the rigors of the journey.
Family and friends will gather at Riverdale on Hudson Funeral Home, 6110 Riverdale Avenue, Riverdale, NY 10471 on Saturday, March 18, 2017 from 11:00am to 2:00pm. Interment will follow in Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, NY. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to PETA or the SPCA of Briarcliff, NY.