Irene Hunte (nee Jessie) was born on October 29, 1952. She was the youngest of four daughters born to Charlie and Naomi Jessie (nee Scott) in Jersey City, New Jersey. Although she was doll-like with light curly hair and hazel eyes, she exhibited her independence and assertiveness with her “I can do it my way” attitude at an early age.
Growing up, she attended Public Schools # 9 and # 12. Since her mother and sisters were singers in the choir at Central Baptist Church in Jersey City, she expressed a natural desire to sing also. While attending Lincoln High School in Jersey City she was a member of the Twirlers Squad, extracurricular clubs and a girls’ singing group. She was an active participant in the Upward Bound Program which greatly influenced her college choices.
Irene graduated from Lincoln in 1970 and was accepted into Montclair State College, where she majored in biology. Years later she was awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology. It was during her freshman year she met her lifelong friend Jackie Batchelor, who, in later years would become her future son’s godmother.
Upon graduating, Irene began working at Jersey City Human Resources. She became the HIV (Aids) coordinator for Jersey City. Irene met Franklin T. Hunte in 1978. They were married in 1981. Shortly they were blessed with a son, Franklin Kyle Hunte in 1982. One of Kyle’s favorite memories is of his mother singing him to sleep each night with “Everybody Knows Your Name” the theme song of the TV program, “Cheers.” While working as a coordinator, Irene attended New Jersey City University and earned a Master of Science Degree in Public Health. She also taught classes at NJCU as an adjunct professor.
In the passing years, Irene worked as a Health Officer for the city of East Orange and was a New Jersey State Health Officer in Trenton. She went on to be selected the Director/Health Officer for the County of Passaic Department of Health. Not busy enough, she became a member of Rho Kappa Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in 2004. She enjoyed cooking and hosting family affairs.
Irene is preceded in death by her parents and sisters Viola Jessie-Jackson and Aretha Broome. She is survived by her son Franklin Kyle, granddaughter Kayla, sister L. Evlyn Mainor and special friend Newton Taylor. She also leaves behind a brother-in-law Mike Mainor, nephews Chris, Michael and Kenneth (Kenny), great nephews, cousins Renee Hava, Joe, Jeanette, friends, and her beloved dog “Boomer.”
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