Iris LaVonne Swanson

May 11, 1931 — April 04, 2024

Service Details

Iris L. Johnson Swanson
May 11, 1931 – April 4, 2024

Perhaps one of the first things you noticed was her hands. Always long, painted nails and several rings. How she crocheted was a mystery. When you married or had a baby, you received an afghan, made by those hands. She gifted us scarves to keep our necks warm, to decorate the Giving Trees at several locations, and to be sent to colleges with the great-grandchildren to share with their friends. There were the thousands of hand-made rugs gifted to the cats at the ARL. She didn’t read instructions and if a stitch was missed, it was promptly corrected. Every stitch done in love.

That big round table in the dining room was purchased in 1964; it comfortably seated ten. It always wore a lace tablecloth and was beautifully decorated. Oh my! The number of meals, sandwiches, bowls of ice cream and games played at this table is immeasurable. You didn’t come to her home that you weren’t offered (almost commanded) to sit and eat with us. There was always enough. She insisted, “It’s just leftovers.” The magnet on the fridge states, ‘It’s just leftovers; the original meal has never been found.’

She was a gracious ‘loser’ when great-grandkids would beat her at Aggravation, Chinese Checkers, Uno, Dominos and a variety of card games. She had the time to teach them crosswords, do word searches, and to color with them. Every meal and game at that big round table was a gift of love.

Born in Montezuma, her family moved to Rising Sun in 1942, and Rising Sun Church of Christ became their home. When Gale proposed, she made it clear that until he was baptized (in the winter in Avon Lake) there would be no talk of marriage. The ice was chipped and he accepted Christ as his Savior. The church, JOY class, giving of time and money, plus the quiet steadfast work of benevolence were hallmarks of their faith. She taught the 4-year-olds Sunday school class for close to 25 years. She led our Endeavor group and supported our Bible camp. Between she and Gale there was never discussion about where the family would be on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday nights.

There’s only a rough count on the number of funeral luncheons she organized. One minister estimated it to be at least a couple of thousand. He stated, “All I ever had to do was call and tell her who’d passed and the date of the service. I knew that she’d take care of everything else. She had her own army of women.” Her service was a gift of love.

Our mother felt a calling for those in need. She had the uncanny ability of ferreting out those who really needed food, shoes, coats and the utility bill paid. When you were told you were going on a benevolence call, you knew these folks really needed help. This taught her children the gifts of gratitude, sharing, and serving others. She established the Benevolence Committees at both Rising Sun Church and Community Church, and through them she’s given many of us the opportunity to love others in the gift of sharing.

Gale and Iris celebrated 57 years of marriage. Like all couples, they had times of struggle but so many more times of joy. They were terrific partners. After retirement they became even more involved in their communities. She was active in the American Business Women's Association (ABWA), her East High Scarlets Class of 1949 group, worked to establish the Pleasant Hill of Lights events, and served ad hoc to several committees. She supported Gale with establishing the Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce and the Development Commission. Gale was named Pleasant Hill Citizen of the Year and not to be outdone, Iris was named Citizen of the Year shortly after. She worked 30 years for Norwest Bank, which would eventually become Wells Fargo. Well-respected for her work ethic, management style, and department potlucks, she still heard from many of her former employees with cards, phone calls and visits, even decades after her retirement.

She worked nights with an entire workforce of women in the building, and when she grew tired of training young men to become her supervisors, she finally told management to either hire her for the job or she was going to another bank to work. She was designated as a vice president and officer in 1977. She made certain her daughters, granddaughters, and women in her circle knew that a strong woman accomplishes huge tasks and finishes the small ones as well. Strong women raise their daughters and sons to be independent and to respect others for their abilities. She gifted us with deep roots and strong wings to accomplish our goals and it was done as a gift of love.

Iris is survived by her children: Sue Ann Denny, Cindee Gail Beattie and Marc (Evon) Swanson, all of Pleasant Hill (she liked that we lived close). Grandchildren are Shananne (Scott) Rediger (Cedar Rapids), Scott Dullard (Amy Waigand) (Adel), Kimberly (David) Hawkins (Ashland, Mo), Emily Beattie (Des Moines), Paul Swanson (Haley)(Mexico, Mo), Matthew (Tana) Beattie (Pleasant Hill), Alyssa Biala (North Aurora, IL), and Joe (Deanna) Para (Greenwood, Mo). Her brothers Phil Johnson and Bob Johnson (Pleasant Hill), Jim (Phyllis) Johnson (Granger), and her brother-in-law, Jr Brewer (Adel).

Iris delighted in her great-grandchildren—all 23 of them.

Predeceasing her is her husband, Gale Swanson, her parents Charles & Charlotte Johnson, her sons-in-law Charlie Beattie and Bill Denny. Other loved ones are: Frank & Joann Johnson, Leona & Pete Stahowick, Betty Johnson, Carla Johnson, Julie Johnson, John & Joyce Swanson and Ila Mae Brewer.

Thank you for celebrating the life of a remarkable woman. Remember, don’t just sit there; if you have time to watch TV, you have time to do something useful.