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Irene Salks

March 21, 1923 — June 16, 2018

Irene (Irina Kanavins) Salks

Irene Salks, 95, formerly from Riverview Park, passed away on Saturday, June 16, after an extended illness. Born on March 21, 1923, in Valka, Latvia, she and her late husband Fricis Salks emigrated to Reading in 1949, as refugees from World War II.

Irene was the daughter of Paulis Kanavins, an agricultural director of the southeast region of Latvia, and Aleksandra Ivanov. Her parents met while Paulis worked on a border survey commission from the Czar in the city of Almata in the Caucuses Mountains of Kazakstan. Irene grew up in a small Latvian village, where her father established an agricultural school.

While Irene was a teenager, during the Soviet Russian occupation of Latvia her father was taken, during a massive ethnic and political cleanse, and deported to a Siberian prison camp. After her father was taken, Irene, her mother, younger sister and brother were forced to leave their home.

Fricis and Irene were married in 1943 in Leudza, Latvia. During the war, she taught elementary school in a rural area near the Baltic Sea.

After the German's were defeated and as the Soviet military moved into the region, Irene and Fricis fled to Germany where they lived in an immigration community in Esslingen for approximately four years, and, while there in 1946, she gave birth to their first child, Ingus.

Fricis had a cousin living in Shenandoah, PA who sponsored their passage to the USA and who housed them until Fricis found work in Reading. Their second son, Davis was born in 1952 and in 1958 Irene began working at Western Electric in Laureldale. She worked as a clean room associate, and later as a quality control technician until 1984 when she retired.

When Fricis and Irene first emigrated to Reading the couple moved to a home on Stoudts Ferry Bridge Road. They spent the rest of their lives there, working, and refining their home. Both enjoyed gardening, and working on joint crafts, building and decorating furniture and fixtures for their home.

Irene also sewed much of her own clothing and hobbies included ceramics and painting. She also loved her family, cooking and baking all types of pastries as well as traditional Latvian treats. She maintained an extensive correspondence with friends from Latvia who had landed in places all over the world. They attended Latvian Lutheran church services held in the old Quaker Meeting House in Reading on North 6th St. and later in Quakertown.

Fricis passed away on May 6, 2004. In 2005, her younger brother Ojars, her oldest son Ingus, and her daughter-in-law all passed away.

Irene is survived by her son Davis Salks, husband of Diane (Haas) Salks; six grandchildren, two of whom (Aleks Salks and Alaina Salks) live locally with their families, and eight great-grandchildren.

A service will be held on Thursday July 5, 2018 at 3:00 pm in Lutz Funeral Home, Inc., 2100 Perkiomen Ave., Reading. Interment is private. For online condolences, please visit
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Thursday, July 5, 2018

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Lutz Funeral Home, Inc. 2100 Perkiomen Ave. Reading, PA 19606

2100 Perkiomen Ave
Mount Penn, PA 19606

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