Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Students
Series 19: Students
Published 2021-10-24 aae

IRENE COMBS Student 1931-1935

06_2447 Seniors 1935. Hubert Cornett, Irene Combs, Chloe Smith, Ben Turner, Retha Stout, Della Turner, Elizabeth (Eliza) Mitchell, Joan Ayers, Oscar Peace, Gola Smith, Ruma (Rumile) Shepherd, George Malicoat. [098_IX_students_06_2447_001.jpg]

TAGS: Irene Combs McIntyre, PMSS students, Richmond McIntyre, The Pine Cone, poems, self-evaluations, surveys, Everett K. Wilson, Caney Junior College, WWII, Cold War, Ladd Air Force Base, Pioneers of Alaska, John McIntyre, Edward McIntyre

IRENE COMBS Student: Pine Mountain Settlement School

When Irene Combs met her future husband at Pine Mountain Settlement School in the 1930s, she couldn’t have guessed how completely her life would be changed. 

IRENE COMBS Student: At Pine Mountain

Irene Combs began as a Pine Mountain boarding student in 1931 and graduated in May of 1935. Among her student activities was contributing to the student literary publication, The Pine Cone. For the April 1934 issue (pages 3-4), she wrote this untitled poem:

I sat in the garden, watching the bees,
As they flew from flower to clover
Gathering nectar for their families.
They seem to know
That evening is hurrying by.

I raise my eyes to watch
The golden ball drop behind the trees,
Casting crimson rays on the western skies.

It too seems to know
That as it ends its day’s work
So ends the work of a comrade’
Or as the moon begins to rise
So begins the work of another.

–Irene Combs, 11th grade

Irene also wrote the following for The Pine Cone’s May 1934 Supplement (pages 18-19):

I stand by the window, looking out upon the morn,
Looking at the frozen river in the distance,
The rays of the sun reflecting on the ice
Like spilled silver on the ground.
I could hear the faint voice of my patient,
“The journey home will be a pleasant one,” he had said.
And I turned to find that he had already begun his
“Pleasant journey home.”

–Irene Combs, 11th grade

Within a year after she graduated, she received a letter from Everett K. Wilson, a teacher and counselor at the School, who enclosed a questionnaire. He asked former students to provide written reflections on their education at Pine Mountain Settlement School, in keeping with Pine Mountain’s educational tradition of self-evaluation. Wilson’s survey was used to assess the impact of PMSS on the life of the students and improve future curriculum. At the time, Irene was living in Pippapass, Knott County, Kentucky, and studying at Caney Junior College (later, Alice Lloyd College) for a teacher’s certificate. She responded with a six-page handwritten letter, which included the following excerpt:

“Pine Mountain helped me in many ways which I could not have obtained from a public school. I had a chance to take a business course which would, no doubt, aid me in securing a position. I greatly enjoyed working in the Glee Club and Choir, and most of all, Pine Mountain gave me a cheap high school education. I was seventeen when I graduated in the class of 1935 and now that I am away I realize how valuable it is and how much I appreciate it. While attending Caney Jr. College, many of the teachers would ask me about Pine Mountain. After answering their questions they too would help me admire it.”

IRENE COMBS: After Pine Mountain 

In 1939 Irene married Richmond McIntyre who had been a PMSS student during the school year 1933-1934. Two years later, Pearl Harbor in Honolulu was attacked by the Japanese Navy Air Service, launching the United States into World War II. Richmond joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and was eventually conducting flying missions over Poland and Germany. Meanwhile, Irene was busy on the home front, volunteering in war efforts. Eventually, Richmond and Irene had three sons, Robert David, Edward, and John. 

Following the end of WWII, Richmond worked for the 46th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Ladd Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska, for several years during the subsequent Cold War. He retired in 1949 and began a second career that consisted of running a sporting goods store, working as a bush pilot, and establishing a charter plane commuter service.

Irene and her children joined Richmond in Alaska in 1949. She too was busy during her life in Alaska, raising her sons, working as a hospital volunteer, and supporting many civic and social causes. According to her obituary in

“In recognition of her contributions to building the state, she was honored with acceptance into the Pioneers of Alaska, an organization designed to honor outstanding citizens of the territorial/early statehood era.”

IRENE COMBS: Later Years

After Richmond McIntyre passed away in 2009, Irene moved from Alaska to Terrre Haute, Indiana, to join her younger son, John McIntyre, who was employed as a music professor at St. Mary of the Woods College. Her son, Edward McIntyre, remained in Fairbanks.


Irene Combs McIntyre. Source: obituary, July 13, 2011.


Irene Elena Combs was born on March 22, 1918, in Viper, Kentucky, to Samuel Clifton Combs (1891-1981) and Mallie Combs (1895-1978). She was the second oldest of three siblings: Harry Allen, Homer G. and Harold K.

Irene died at her home in Cobblestone Crossings, Indiana, on July 11, 2011, at the age of 93.




See Also:
– Biography
COMBS Family
– Biography


Irene Combs

Alt. Title

Irene Elena Combs ; Irene McIntyre; Irene Combs McIntyre ; Mrs. Richmond McIntyre ;



Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Irene Combs ; Irene Elena Combs ; Irene McIntyre ; Irene Combs McIntyre ; Mrs. Richmond McIntyre ; self-evaluations ; surveys ; Everett K. Wilson ; Caney Junior College ; WWII ; Cold War ; Ladd Air Force Base ; Pioneers of Alaska ; John McIntyre ; Edward McIntyre ;

Subject LCSH

McIntyre, Irene Combs, — 1918-2011.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.


2021-10-24 aae


Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.




Collections ; text ; image ;


Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet


Series 09: Biography and Series 19: Students.




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: Biography and Series 19: Students

Coverage Temporal

1918 – 2011

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Fairbanks, AK ; Hazard, KY ; Viper, KY ; Perry County, KY ; Pippapasses, KY ; Terre Haute, IN ; Cobblestone Crossings, IN ;


Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.




Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers of Irene Combs McIntyre ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Irene Combs McIntyre ;




“[Identification of Item],” [Collection Name] [Series Number, if applicable]. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.

Processed By: Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last Updated: 2021-10-25 hhw;


“Combs, Irene.” Series 09: Biography and Series 19: Students. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource (see links in text)., Family Tree for Irene Combs and Richmond McIntyre. Accessed 23 October 2021. ; Internet resource.

“Frontiersman Dick McIntyre found rich life of adventure in Alaska,” Obituary by Dermot Cole, News-Miner Daily, Fairbanks, AK, May 24, 2010; Updated . Internet resource.

“Irene Combs McIntyre, March 22, 1918 – July 11, 2011.” Obituary published in (The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, IN), July 13, 2011. Internet resource.

“United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980-2014,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 October 2021), Irene Combs Mcintyre, Terre Haute, Indiana, United States, 13 Jul 2011; from “Recent Newspaper Obituaries (1977 – Today),” database, ( : 2014); citing Tribune-Star, The, born-digital text. Internet resource.

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