Joys & Sorrows – May 4, 2021

Iris Lanyon died at the age of 84 at the Kaplan Hospice Center in Danvers following a period of declining health hastened by a battle with COVID -19 last fall.

Iris was a vibrant woman who never shied away from an adventure.  Throughout her life she traveled the world – from her early days accompanying her biologist father on research expeditions; to cruises and tours throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia; and family sailing trips in the Caribbean.  She often served as the group’s tour guide, showing off her unwavering sense of direction.  After each trip she created a scrapbook of photos, brochures and mementos. Her last journey, just 2 years ago, was to her birthplace in Puerto Rico accompanied by her children.

Iris generously shared her talents with a wide community of friends, acquaintances and extended family.  An accomplished cook, she hosted many gatherings at her home, including memorable Three Kings Day parties. Her paella was unequalled.  Iris also was an award winning watercolorist whose work was exhibited in local shows. (including in our own Fellowship Hall) Her subject matter was frequently drawn from her travels. Her paintings grace the homes of family and friends around the world. A social science teacher by profession, she held a BA from Inter American University in PR and an MA in Geography from the University of Florida.  After retiring from teaching, Iris worked as a docent at the Worcester Art Museum and Higgins Armory. While at Higgins she used her talents as a seamstress to design and sew costumes for the children’s program. When she became a grandmother she hand-made dolls and doll clothes for each of her grandchildren.

Iris was born in Ponce, PR.  She came to MA in 1969 and settled in Auburn with her first husband and their children.  After marrying Dr. H. Peter Lanyon in 1980, she moved to Holden where she resided for 30 years.  She was often described as the glue that kept a blended family together. She and Peter enjoyed many years of travel, classical music, great food, laughter and a love of crossword puzzles. (completed only in pen)  Following Peter’s death in 2008, she moved to The Willows in Worcester and began attending UUCW.  A few years ago she moved to the John Bertram House in Salem to be closer to her daughter who was her primary caregiver.  Iris is survived by her daughter Michelle Hagerty and partner Fran; son Larry Wheatley and his wife Elizabeth; step son Peter Lanyon and his wife Vickie; step daughter Jennifer Mier; and eight grandchildren, including Drew and Alison Lanyon, who knew her fondly as “Abuela”.

Rev. Aaron R. Payson