San Diego native, Irene Gouveia Oberbauer passed away from Metastatic Breast Cancer November 21, 2020.  Irene had a rich history in San Diego and impacted the region immensely in her career and through her philanthropic work. She is a graduate of Point Loma High School and San Diego State University, worked in local government, and had a lengthy tenure with San Diego County Credit Union, where she worked as leader of business development and eventually became President and CEO. She carried the San Diego County Credit Union forward through the global financial crisis of 2007-2008.

Her philosophies in life were very clear: work hard and efficiently, care for people who work for you or with you, be fair in every decision you make, provide tokens and reminders that you care, and above all, get things done. Her skills and compassion for working with people led staff to tell her that she helped them to become better at their jobs than they thought possible.

Irene received multiple awards through her career, including a lifetime-achievement award from the San Diego Business Journal and was named “Most Admired CEO” by both the Business Journal and San Diego’s Daily Transcript.

After retiring from the Credit Union, Irene took on the tasks of supporting the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Make-A-Wish Foundation. She acted as board chair for local chapters of both organizations.

For Komen, she took it upon herself to become fundraiser of the year for the annual Race for the Cure walk for multiple years, raising a total of $280,000. Her team name was “IO it to myself” which was a play on her initials and her goal that everyone can fulfill their own dream. Through her involvement in her career and her philanthropic endeavors, Irene never sought attention and rewards for herself.

Irene’s philosophy was demonstrated through her work with Komen.  She believed that each of us has the control of potentially saving someone’s life by just asking the question, ‘Will you help?’

Between a personal e-newsletter that she would send to her family and friends, coin canisters she would ask her local dry cleaners and florist to put at their front desk, a casino game night, individual asks from friends, family, and making personal contributions—Irene’s fundraising supported local breast cancer patients.  She said, “a lot of people have apprehension about asking for support or donations—but I know Komen’s mission is too important and I never hesitate. If someone says no, that’s okay, I’m not working to change their mind, and I turn it into an opportunity to educate them.”

In the same year that Irene was battling stage three breast cancer she lost her sister to a combination of breast, brain and lung cancer. From then on, she literally walked in her sister’s shoes every Race for the Cure and was unwavering in her dedication to support the women in our community battling this disease.

When Irene made friends, no matter who they were, she kept their friendship and communicated with them all. She would do anything for somebody who needed assistance and had made a vast set of friends who assisted her through her medical treatments. For her family, she was a beacon who always had a view and logical thought process for decision making. Every person who Irene connected with felt richer from the experience. Most of them say that she was one of the most amazing, compassionate, and caring people that they ever met. She was preceded in death by her sister, Mary G. Walsh, and her parents, John Batista Gouveia Sr. and Mary Teixeira Gouveia. She is survived by her husband, Tom, sons, Paul and Sean, granddaughter, Gwen and brothers, John and Dean.

We have been honored and blessed to have her in our lives.

Proceeds from The Irene Oberbauer Breast Cancer Fund will support breast cancer Research and the Treatment Assistance Fund for breast cancer patients in the San Diego region.   

Komen has invested more than $1.1 billion in breast cancer research, and that work has played a role in nearly every major breakthrough in its 40-year history.  The survival rate for individuals diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. is more than 30% higher than it was 25 years ago. But our work is not done until no more lives are lost to breast cancer.

Scientific Advisory Committee: a group of researchers from distinguished institutions around the country who provide strategic guidance and direction for Komen’s research and scientific programs. Led by Chief Scientific Advisors, Dr. George W. Sledge of Stanford University and Dr. Jennifer Pietenpol of Vanderbilt University, these experts help prioritize our research investments and serve as the executive committee of the Komen Scholars.

Komen Scholars: an advisory group of more than 50 distinguished breast cancer researchers and patient advocates whose expertise includes everything from clinical and laboratory research, pathology, prevention, radiation oncology and surgery. They contribute notably to Komen’s peer review process of grant applications and act as ambassadors in communities across the U.S.

Advocates in Science Committee: a group of skilled, knowledgeable and broadly networked patient advocates who actively engage throughout the research process in all areas from the bench to the bedside.

Komen’s Key Initiatives:

Metastatic Breast Cancer
Komen attributes most breast cancer deaths to metastatic breast cancers (MBC). These cancers have evaded early detection, escaped current treatments and recurred or progressed as they spread to other parts of the body, reaching lethal stage IV status. MBC continues to evade treatments and affects each patient differently. Our metastatic breast cancer research program is focused on understanding why metastasis occurs and how to prevent and treat this disease. In Komen’s current, active research portfolio of approximately 200 grants, about half are focused on recurrence and metastasis.

Breast Cancer Disparities Research
Where you live and what you look like should not determine whether you live, yet it would be naive to believe this is not the case. Disparities in breast cancer outcomes – particularly among communities of color — are not only issues of health, but of racial, ethnic and social injustices that contribute to unequal access to care. Our disparities research program focuses on both the biological causes of health inequalities as well as social causes and developing interventions to reduce and eliminate these differences. We also work to increase diversity in clinical trial participation to ensure a better understanding of a potential therapy’s effectiveness for diverse patient groups.

Treatment Assistance Program
Financial hardships shouldn’t keep patients from getting the treatments they need, that’s why we created the Komen Treatment Assistance Program. Financial assistance is available for breast cancer treatment expenses such as:

  • Rent/Housing
  • Utilities/Bills
  • Side-effect management medication (e.g. pain, anti-nausea, etc.)
  • Child care/elder care
  • Oral treatment medication (e.g. chemotherapy, hormone therapy, etc.)
  • Transportation to and from treatment
  • Durable medical equipment (e.g. oxygen tank, walker, etc.)
  • Lymphedema care and supplies
  • Food or groceries
  • Palliative care
  • Home health care

The Irene Oberbauer Breast Cancer Fund will help empower people to fight breast cancer.

Support the fund and support breast cancer patients.

Honor IRENE’s Legacy


The Irene Oberbauer Fund will support breast cancer research and the Treatment Assistance Fund for breast cancer patients in the San Diego region.

Irene was a dynamic and loving wife and mother. She cared so much for the Susan G. Komen organization and had immense passion about raising money for the cause. She was always there for us, and willing to do anything to help any of us. She cared so much about her family and was extremely excited and proud to have a granddaughter, Gwen. We miss her terribly but feel more sad that she is not here to watch Gwen grow and progress. She still had so much life to live. 

Thanks very much,

Tom Oberbauer

Support the fund and support breast cancer patients.