Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Iris is 108

It was with great interest that I read Mikkel Pates' Column in Agweek on an afternoon in April. The author is an acquaintance of Farmer Fred's. 
The column mentioned that Mikkel Pates had sung in the First Lutheran Church Choir in Worthington, Minnesota during a time when Iris had been in the choir, too. Follow the link to read the column. 
I brought the paper to Iris and read the column aloud to her. Did she remember Mikkel Pates? Of course she did.
Turns out, he remembered her as well and followed up with a visit where they discussed memories of the time he spent in Worthington and the people that they both knew. 
As the column reveals, he sings in a gospel quartet, the In God We Trust quartet.
 Mikkel Pates arranged and somehow convinced his fellow members to sing for Iris near her birthday. 
What fun it was. And how very talented the quartet from Fargo, North Dakota turned out to be! As Iris said, "That was the best program we have ever had here."
The performance of the In God We Trust quartet made both the youngest and the oldest members of the audience smile. That is quite a musical accomplishment.
So she celebrated a little early with a couple of August birthday boys.
Today Iris turns 108.
Iris was raised on the Westman farm near Aneta, North Dakota, pictured above with the family dog, Tige.
Iris is a 1928 graduate of the University of North Dakota.   
She was the only daughter in her family to survive to adulthood. Two sisters did not survive their childhood. It caused her to be very close to her mother and fiercely loyal to her brothers.
Where she fits into the oldest living person category, we don't know, but it is important to remember, Iris was young once, too.
Iris was an English teacher in both Aneta and Hillsboro, North Dakota before moving to Minnesota. The photo above was taken in Hillsboro and the following information is written on the back:
Iris was best "man" 
Hazel (Howard) was bridesmaid at Esther Killeson's marriage - when her fiance was drafted and Summer wedding plans were ruined. 1942
As a single woman, Iris had the opportunity to be a good friend to many.
She retired as the elementary librarian in Worthington, Minnesota, where she sang in the First Lutheran Church choir with Mikkel Pates. Iris reminded Mr. Pates, when they lived in Worthington, they were really just acquaintances.
 Thanks to the good Lord, First Lutheran Church and that column in AgWeek.
A friendship has formed. 
 Today is her birthday and we will celebrate again.


  1. Happy Birthday to Iris!

    -The Wishek 4th Grade Class

  2. Sharon and Harry DrakeAugust 28, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    How wonderful Iris is 108. She sure looks like she is in good health and a very sweet person.
    Thank you for sharing this story and her life. I love to see the old pictures and have many of our families. My Mother is the oldest in the family at 94 soon to be 95. Her Aunts were late 90's and one 104.
    Thanks again. We live south of Wichita, Kansas 60 miles, 15 miles from Oklahoma line. had a lot of good rain July and first of August. The farmers are beginning to work ground to plant wheat. Sunflowers blooming in fields.
    Cotton coming on and maize making heads. Soy beans are looking good. We have been 3 years of dry and now they are doing good with crops and hay. Take care, Sharon Drake Aug. 28, 2013

  3. Gale Zeiner KurtenbachFebruary 26, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    Iris, Just saw this article. As soon as I saw your picture I recognized you right away. Hope you are have a great year. Wishing you an early Happy 109th Birthday!!!!
    From Gale Zeiner Kurtenbach

  4. I always liked it when she read to us. Have a Happy Birthday and enjoy each day