“It is the friendship of women around the world that can and does make a difference” Irmeli Torsonen
It is with great sadness that we share news of the passing of our beloved Soroptimist Friend and Past President of Soroptimist International (SI), Irmeli Piela, formerly Torssonen, affectionately known to her friends as Imme.
Born in 1945, Imme was President of SI for the biennium 2001 – 2003, which included the Convention, held in Sydney in 2003. Imme led two President’s Appeals: ‘Building Peace Among Children’, partnering with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scout (WAGGGS) to develop a peace ambassadors network of young people in Africa; and, ‘Continuum of Care’ with Medecins Sans Frontieres, supporting mothers and their children, affected with HIV/AIDS.
Imme’s President’s Appeals were a demonstration in many ways of her incomparable empathy and nature as a human being. With great intention and endless tolerance, Imme handled even the most complicated of problems with ease. A great listener, Imme spoke many languages and had a great understanding of different cultures. Known for her positivity and sense of humour, she was able to instantly release tension; turning frowns into smiles, and joy. Known for her warm heart, honesty and encouragement, Imme was never one to let her friends down.
A Development Manager with particular responsibility for Tourism in Turku, Imme loved nature, people and their history, and singing – a vocalist in a pop music band when she was young. Actively encouraging new membership and promoting the Soroptimist message, her inspiring career included the role of Soroptimist International of Europe President from 1995 to 1997; Convention Chair, Helsinki, 1999; Member of the Finnish Union; and, a long-term and an honorary member of SI Turka Club.
Special thoughts to all those who knew Imme, and thanks to those who helped us prepare this article, including Pam Lee, SIGBI President 1998/9, and Kirsti Varis, SI Helsinki.
“That was our Imme – she was our Star!” – “Destined to make a difference, and she did.”