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Irene Lois (Pettigrew) Digby

• There are times in this life when even the most elegantly arranged words on a page still fails to describe and honor an individual. This is truly one of those times. The impact of the life that Irene “Mema” Digby lived is almost indescribable in words.
Irene was truly the epitome of class. She was a devoted mother, grandmother, a true matriarch, a hero, a cherished friend, a proud member of the Chickasaw Nation, but most importantly, a steadfast Christian.
Irene Lois Pettigrew was born on Nov. 12, 1921, to the late Joe and Serena (Fulsum) Pettigrew, east of Davis, in “the little white house” in what was known then as the Fairview Community. She passed from this earthly life, surrounded by her loving family, on Saturday, March 26, 2022, in Davis, at the young age of 100 years, 4 months and 14 days.
Irene was a lifelong resident of Davis, and a 1942 graduate of Davis High School. She and B.F. “Dick” Digby were married on Dec. 7, 1946, in Dallas, Texas. From this marriage were born four children, Dean, Ronnie, Beverly, and Rhonda.
Irene was what some would call a “trooper.” Although she was small in stature and soft spoken, she was a giant when it came to living her life. She was a gentle souled lady that faced countless trials throughout her life, meeting each one of those trials head on, with her faith and her family. She was extremely active in the lives of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and at the age of 100 years old, even her great-great grandchildren. She, “Mema,” attended every sporting event, school activity, church activity and family function that any of her family was involved in. She was truly the biggest fan for each member of her family. Her attendance was not just as a spectator, she was there to vocally cheer her beloved family member on to a victory, and we as a community know, there were countless victories for this family.
Irene had her priorities straight in life. God was always foremost, then came her family and then friends. Her devotion to her Lord and Savior took her to many area churches. Whether it was attending the Sandy Baptist Church, Dougherty Baptist Church, Chickasaw Trail Baptist Church or First Baptist Church of Davis, Irene was there to worship her Christ, surrounded by her family. Often while attending these churches, Irene, along with her daughters and granddaughters, would bless the congregation with a beautiful song in native tongue.
Irene, being one of the last known full blood Chickasaws, was very proud of her heritage. Her loyalty to the Chickasaw Nation was honored and celebrated by being inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2014. She was featured in three books published by the Chickasaw Press, as well as Mike Larsen’s acclaimed painting series, Elders of the Chickasaw Nation, and the documentary “Chickasaw Removal.” Irene actively performed her storytelling in local schools, teaching children Chickasaw heritage through her tales. She was very fluent in the Chickasaw language and enjoyed teaching others to speak and sing in native tongue. Irene blessed each new addition to her family, as well as many beloved friends, with their very own special native name.
Irene was not only “Mema” to her family but was loved by many others in the community who affectionally referred to her as “Mema Digby” or simply “Ms. Digby.” She was an icon in Davis and very highly regarded and respected by the people of Davis. Her quite yet powerful impact led her to be honored by the Davis Public School for her charitable contributions by being inducted into the Davis Alumni Association Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2015, she received the AARP Honorary Elders Award. Irene was honored by the Centenarians of Oklahoma, in December 2021, by being inducted into the Centenarians of Oklahoma Hall of Fame, having reached the age of 100 years. She was extremely proud of this great honor.
Irene cherished attending family gathering. Being with her family brought her immense joy. She enjoyed cooking with her family, especially traditional meals outside. Irene was blessed with a beautiful alto voice and loved singing with her family. She spent many hours doing native beading works and crafted many beautiful pieces throughout her life. She also enjoyed going shopping, collecting hats and going for rides with her great-granddaughter Shaynee, who could talk her in to doing anything.
Irene’s death will leave a huge void in the lives of her family, the Chickasaw Nation and the town of Davis. She will forever be remembered for her gentle soul, her unwavering faith, her willingness to see others prosper, and of course, her beautiful smile. “Mema, may you now rest in peace with your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Those left to cherish her legacy of love include her son, Ronnie Digby and wife Dixie; two daughters, Beverly Reynen and husband Bob, and Rhonda McCann and husband Ron; daughter-in-law, Barbara Digby, all of Davis; ten beloved grandchildren and their spouses including, Tammie Webb and husband TJ, Jeri Martin and husband Mike, Jennifer Bahner and husband Lee, Jason Digby and wife Dana, Boomer Digby, Colt Digby and wife Sarah, Cheyenne Digby, Shonda Martin and husband Bill, Stephanie McCann, Robyn Zike and husband Chris, and Ronni Burch and husband Jeramy; 23 beloved great-grandchildren, Logan Webb, Casady Webb, Jaden Son and husband Andy, Cole Martin, Jordyn Romine, Jolie Romine, Brendyn Pierce, Rance Digby, Asher Digby, Cloey Digby, BreeAnna Digby, Taytem Digby, Beckett Digby, Lawton Hammer, Maxx Hammer, Maddox Nichols, Skye Reynen, Shaynee Martin, Jett Martin, Cleat Zike, Chaning “Bubs” Zike, McCanna Jo Zike, Canon Burch, and Jerzie Burch; three beloved great-great grandchildren, Cason, Olivia and Zephyr; niece Juhree Greenwood; and nephew, Buster Greenwood.
In addition to her parents, Irene was preceded in death by her husband, BF “Dick” Digby on June 11, 1995; son, Aaron Dean Digby on July 8, 2017; grandson, Robbie McCann; three sisters, Lucille Looney, Caroline Stribbling, and Lorene Greenwood; as well as one brother, Herman Pettigrew.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m., Wednesday, March 30, 2022, at the First Baptist Church of Davis, with Pastors Wayne Edgar, Bryan Hetherington, Alan McCoy and Johnny Tohnika officiating. Interment will follow at Green Hill Cemetery in Davis.
The family received friends from 5-7 p.m., on March 29 at the funeral home.
Services are entrusted to Hale’s Funeral Home, of Davis.
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