Irene Sorrough, Army officer

June 9, 2013

Irene Sorrough, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who helped devise a gender-neutral system of work assignments for the Army, died May 22 at Capital Caring hospice center in Arlington County. She was 98.

She had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said a friend, retired Army Lt. Col. Jenelle Roberts.

Lt. Col. Sorrough enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1942. She worked in statistics and analysis early in her career and helped prepare a comprehensive survey of soldiers who took part in World War II.

In the mid-1950s, she had a one-year assignment to write a study on women in the military for a Columbia University project on women in the workforce.

Lt. Col. Sorrough helped lead an effort in the early 1960s to identify military roles that could be filled by women as well as men. She was instrumental in developing a gender-neutral classification system that is still used by the military.

Lt. Col. Sorrough retired in 1968 as chief of personnel at the old Army Engineer School at Fort Belvoir. Her decorations included the Legion of Merit and Army Commendation Medal.

Irene Eugenie Michels was born in New York City and worked as a bookkeeper before World War II. She attended the City College of New York and received a bachelor’s degree in absentia while serving in the Army during the war.

Her marriage to Fred H. Sorrough ended in divorce.

After her military career, Lt. Col. Sorrough lived in Falls Church, where she was a member of St. James Catholic Church. She was a member of Friends of the Smithsonian and the James Smithson Society. She was active in military organizations, including the Women’s Army Corps Foundation, Women in Military Service for America Foundation and the U.S. Army Women’s Museum.

She had no immediate survivors.

Matt Schudel

Matt Schudel has been an obituary writer at The Washington Post since 2004.