Irene Woody


Irene Woody, 71, Richardton, passed away from complications of multiple sclerosis on April 28th, 2024.  An Open House to honor her memory is planned for May 25th, 2024 in Richardton, North Dakota.

Irina Mykolayivna Arshinichenko was born May 9th, 1952, in Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine.

She attended general school #71, graduated from Zaporizhzhya State University with a foreign language teaching degree and started working as a high school English teacher.

In 1973, she married Sergei Tsibur, a metallurgical engineer and in 1974 their first daughter, Sasha, was born.  In 1978, Irene moved her family to the small Railway Settlement Niya, Irkutsk region, Russia, where she taught German and Sergei worked on the railroad and power station. Irene organized a kids theater club, Sergei coached soccer and both of them directed kids’ and adults’ knowledge bowls. In 1986, they returned to Zaporizhzhya and their second daughter, Liza, was born. Irene taught high school and university Ukrainian language and literature, and gave private English and German lessons.

As the Soviet Union began to unravel, Irene took active part in grass roots organizations to establish a fair election process and attended many demonstrations. She wrote articles to reclaim local Ukrainian history and the history of German and Mennonite settlements in Southern Ukraine, long suppressed by the Soviet regime. She was also a founding member of the Zaporizhzhya Mennonite Society and interpreted for the first Germans from Russia tours and many evangelical missionary groups. In 1992, Sergei passed away from cancer.

Irene eventually met and married Charles Woody, a missionary pastor, and she and Liza moved to join him in Anchorage, Alaska. They later moved to Lincoln, ND, where Charles became a pastor of Lincoln Baptist Church and Irene worked with ESL students at Bismarck Public Schools. She earned her Masters degree in Special Education and taught in Selfridge, ND.

Irene had lived with multiple sclerosis since 1993 and had to enter the Richardton Nursing Home in 2013. Nursing home staff took very good care of her and many staff members became her friends.

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We were privileged to know Irene and Chuck when they attended Cornerstone Community Church in Bismarck. Irene had such a gentle faith-filled spirit. Her beautiful smile and quiet laughter were a balm to the spirit.

Miss Irene. She was beautifully special to me. I remember the day that she finally gave in to the fact that I would never get her morning routine in the right order. She shook her head at me saying “oh Cindi Cindi Cindi.” We both laughed together and from that day on we had a wonderful bond. Love you lady!