Irene Burgoon was born 25 April 1901 in Altoona, Pennsylvania. She grew up in a family with a rich tradition of service in the United States Armed Forces. Her two brothers, Albert and Joe, served during WWI; her great grandfather was a Captain in the Union Army during the Civil War; and she could trace her lineage back to several Revolutionary War soldiers. In 1923, Irene married James Duncan Boyd, a USN veteran who had also served in WWI. They settled in Pittsburgh, PA and raised three sons, two of whom served in the US Army during WWII. 

In 1941, Irene responded to the call and began “knitting for the cause”. She made hundreds of pairs of socks and dozens of sweaters to support the war effort and “keep the boys warm”. She also served as a coordinator for the American Red Cross, distributing patterns, yarn, and needles to knitters, and collecting finished garments and accessories for distribution to the troops serving around the world.

The red, white, and blue double-pointed needles and a collection of American Red Cross knitting patterns, along with a lifelong passion for knitting and service, were lovingly passed down by Irene Burgoon Boyd to her granddaughter, Nan Boyd Walther, who cherished them and has donated them to the St. Charles Veterans Museum in her grandmother’s honor.

Wartime knitting was more than a hobby…it was an act of patriotism.  Want to read more? click on the pdf.

Please contact the St. Charles County Veterans Museum Oral History project at or call 636-294-2657 for more information and lets’ talk. We want to hear from you because we know…Every Veteran has a story.