Iris Elizabeth Bannon, born Elizabeth Iris Ryan, passed on March 6, 2021. She was 87 years old.
Iris was born in Dublin, Ireland, on Jan. 16, 1934, to John Ryan and Josephine Fogarty. Iris cherished her childhood spent in Ireland; she loved to reminisce on her days spent with her family working together to collect peat from a nearby bog to keep warm throughout the winter, and gathering supplies to prepare dinners.
Although life was difficult in her town of Templemore, Iris found a lifelong sense of positivity, happiness and strength in her upbringing.
After joining the convent in 1949 at the young age of 15, Iris sailed on the Queen Mary to America. After over two years of service in the convent, she fell ill and spent weeks in the infirmary with rheumatic fever.
Iris made the most of her life, even during her illness, and met a dear friend at the infirmary named Norma. Iris and Norma kept each other’s spirits up with humor and plans for the future. Iris reluctantly returned to Ireland in 1951 to recover from her illness. She then moved to England and worked at a spool factory.
After earning enough money in London to buy a ticket to board the Queen Elizabeth, Iris returned to America in 1954. After arriving in New York, Iris took a train across the country to Washington, where Norma and her family helped her gain her citizenship.
The day after arriving in Washington, Iris found work and began to build her life in America, mostly through the Catholic community. After settling, Iris continued to travel as a stewardess through Alaska Airlines, fulfilling her wishes of seeing new places and meeting new people.
In 1966, Iris moved to Goleta, California. She loved the sunshine and working outside in her amazing garden. One of her childhood aspirations was to surround herself with flowers, and she accomplished this dream splendidly by keeping her garden lush with endless flowers and beautiful plants.
Iris established a strong connection with the Goleta community through her work. She first started working at the Juvenile Hall before moving to Robinsons May as an expert seamstress whose impeccable work was highly sought after in Santa Barbara.
Iris continued to serve the Goleta community as a secretary at St. Raphael School, where her children attended. She then worked as a secretary at Delco for almost 10 years before retiring and focusing her service on her family, as well as volunteering at numerous organizations in Santa Barbara and Goleta.
Amazingly, Iris found time to pursue her own creative interests as well, and she was a spectacular poet. Iris gained recognition for her published poem “The Two Shilling Piece.” She loved writing, and penned many poems and short stories about her beloved relationships and hometown.
Along with her writing, Iris also loved the excitement of acting. She frequently drove to Burbank, California, and auditioned for any part she could get her hands on, landing herself a few roles as an extra.
In her free time, Iris knitted countless blankets, hats and sweaters. Iris had quite an eye for design, and she hand-embroidered many intricate pillows, linens and stockings for her family and friends.
Iris was loved by all who met her. She had an open heart and an open home for her loved ones. Iris had many friends and hosted numerous parties throughout the years. Her friends remember her for her great sense of humor and her zest for life.
Iris was also a doting grandmother. She loved cooking for her family and spending time with them around her warm fireplace.
Iris always had a deep love for animals, especially the different dogs she spent her life with. She loved to tell stories of Captain, her black Labrador in Ireland that she forever kept in her heart.
Iris also rescued and provided a loving home for many others throughout her life: Taffy, the cockapoo of Vancouver, Washington; Taffy, the cockapoo of Goleta; Chennie, the spitz of Goleta; and Lily, the poodle maltese mix, whom she spoiled and loved everyday.
Iris is survived by her two children that she loved dearly, Cheryl Gawron Sweeney and Forest Daniels; her grandchildren Alexandra Ball, Catherine Gawron, Jason Bannon, Ryan Bannon and Colleen Macfadyen; and her great-grandchildren Maxim and Bohdan Ball.
In lieu of flowers, donations made to the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County, where Iris dedicated much of her life volunteering, are very appreciated.