Irene Nicolas passed away on May 17, 2014, at Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa, Calif.
A memorial service is planned for 4 p.m. July 10 in the sanctuary at St. Joseph’s Cultural Center in Grass Valley.
Irene was born July 10, 1939, in Japanese-occupied Shanghai, China, where her parents settled after fleeing the Russian Civil War.
In 1949, Irene with her family spent two years in a refugee camp on Samar Island in the Republic of the Philippines after fleeing the Red Chinese army that was moving on Shanghai.
Irene and her family eventually settled in San Francisco.
Irene received her bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State, as well as a teaching credential. She taught briefly at Evert Junior High School. Irene’s first love was art and in the span of more than 35 years she created hundreds of works of art, including fiber, paintings, cut tin work, mono prints and more.
Her images were featured in several national magazines and she was a featured in an issue of New Mexico.
Irene lived and worked in the Grass Valley area for more than 15 years and, along with her husband John, owned and ran Moonshine Books in Nevada City for seven years. She and her husband were members of Booktown Books Coop where she also maintained an art studio.
She participated in numerous art shows and fairs and two of her paintings were named Best in Show twice at the annual Espanola Art fair in Espanola, New Mexico, where she and her husband resided for six years.
Irene was a founding member of The Friends of Saint Francis and the Espanola Valley Humane Society and helped organize and operate five thrift stores that benefited animal welfare groups. She also worked feeding the homeless at both Hospitality House in Grass Valley and with Divine Spark in Nevada City.
She is survived by her husband, John Fletcher; sons Nicolas and Alexander Peck; daughters-in law Agnes Peck and Maria Vierra; grandson Julian and granddaughter Natalie; and many, many dear friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Nicolas and Iya Cholkoff.