A Celebration of the Life of Iris Edinger
Dec. 18, 2022 ~ 1:00 p.m.
Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church
7304 Jordan Ave, Canoga Park, CA 91303
Rev. Matthew McHale, Minister
After the service, you are invited to a reception in the Pavilion. Because Iris so loved sharing music, there will be an opportunity for musicians to continue to play and sing in a song circle at her house this evening. This will also be a good time for more stories and remembrances.
In lieu of flowers, Iris’s family asks that donations be made to the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Unitarian-Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), or Emerson Memorial Fund. I
Iris’s family thanks you for being here to honor her life and for all your comforting messages and other expressions of kindness and love during this time of bereavement.
Iris Nathalia (Mason) Edinger was born in Detroit, Michigan to 1st and 2nd generation Polish and Slovak immigrants. Her father’s name was Tadeusz Mosiejewski, but as Iris recounted the story, his
bride to be, Ann Sykora, insisted he change his last name to Mason as a condition of marriage (not just any Anglo name, it had to be Mason). Hence the proudly Polish girl with the Anglo last name.
Iris spent her childhood years in northern Ohio, especially Cleveland. As a five year-old on her uncle’s farm, her jobs were to open the gate and let in the cows in the evening, and clean the kerosene lamps.. The young family later moved into a public housing project in Cleveland: that’s partly because her father believed in public housing, and wanted to help make it work. Activism came naturally to Iris.
As a teenager, Iris and her mother moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she completed high school. Iris graduated from University of Arizona before moving to Los Angeles to attend USC library school in 1950. The LA area was her home base for the rest of her life.
Iris earned additional Masters degrees in English and Anthropology from UCLA and CSUN, respectively. Iris began her career as a secondary school teacher in Los Angeles in 1957, the same year she married Eddie Edinger. Iris spent most of her 34-year teaching career teaching English and social studies at Birmingham High School and Mulholland Junior High, in the San Fernando Valley. Iris was a dedicated and innovative teacher; she wove Women’s history, Black history, and Native American history into her classes when these disciplines were in their early years. She also enjoyed teaching English as a Second Language: she said that newly arrived students from foreign countries showed a great appreciation for teachers.
She was an active, career-long member of her union, the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), especially the UTLA Human Rights committee. A skilled musician, Iris played the recorder and the piano, and sang. Iris was a founding member of the Songmakers, from its beginnings in Griffith Park, when it was called People’s Songs West. She also played in the Geritones, the Recorders West ensemble, and other groups.
Iris was a dedicated peace, social justice, and labor activist throughout her life. While a mother of young children, she demonstrated against the Vietnam war. In the 1980’s, she joined an international peace delegation to Hiroshima, and protested against US intervention in Central America. In her ‘60s she participated in civil disobedience against nuclear weapons testing at the Nevada Test Site. In her ‘70s and ‘80’s, as a long-standing member of Veterans for Peace, she helped run the Arlington West memorial on Santa Monica beach for many years. Iris’ volunteer activities with the American Friends Service Committee, the Sanctuary movement, and No More Deaths focused on refugees and on border issues. For example, helped establish a library and school in an informal border settlement in Baja California.
She was a member of Emerson Church for more than 50 years, where she helped organize the Emerson social action alliance, among many other church activities. Iris’ extensive travels took her to the far corners of the world, often volunteering on projects such as building a school in Nicaragua, archeological digs with Elder Hostel. She visited all 50 US states, 11 of 13 Canadian provinces and territories, and more than 45 countries. Closer to home she was an active member of the Sierra Club, both for extensive outdoor recreation activities and for environmental activism, especially around nuclear issues in California. She loved the outdoors, and spent many trips backpacking, skiing, canoeing, or camping throughout California and the
Iris Edinger passed away in her home last Tuesday, August 23, at 92yrs.
Iris would have been 93 on October 12, former Columbus Day. She was so thrilled that Columbus Day had been renamed Indigenous Peoples Day a few years ago now, celebrated the Second Monday of October.
Ever the educator, she would point out the importance of correcting history to more accurately reflect what really happened in 1492. (She enjoyed the song ‘1492’ by Nancy Shimmel).
Eddy Edinger passed in 2018. Iris and Eddy were active in the early roots of Song Makers. They lived near Griffith Park then and attended the Sunday SongMaking meetings at the park in in the 50s and 60s.
Songwriters attending, were writing songs of the times like ‘Black and White’ by David Arkin, an early Song Maker. Iris also took folklore classes from Bess Hass during this time. When she and Eddy moved to West Hills, 1966, the Edinger’s held SMkers Hoots in their home every 8 weeks or so.
Iris was a world traveler. During her summer vacations and sabbaticals, she traveled to unfamiliar parts of the world. Iris was an activist with Veterans for Peace, Sierra Club, UTLA. and so many more.
Her father had inspired a love of music in Iris as a child. She played a family heirloom piano almost daily
I’m told. She played recorder with a group, the Geritones. She was a reader, educator, musician, but
best of all a mother two sons Evan and Steve, and grandmother of six grandsons!
Last Saturday a small gathering was held in her home with local family, neighbors, close friends.Evan and Steve plan a larger celebration of Iris’s rich life over winter break some time. We will let you know time and date probably at Emerson Unitarian Church in Canoga Park.
She will be missed at Steve Berman’s Zoom Circle on Sunday eve. And Alans 4th Monday Song circle.
Although deep into her hospice journey Iris lit up when she heard the Channel Islands Yacht Club Summer Picnic was happening after a two-year Covid hiatus. Evan took this as a que to take his infirmed mom in her wheel chair to the event. She loved it though she looked like she was in deep mediation the whole time. When it came the family’s turn, they sang De Colores beautifully in Spanish. A memory I will hold.
A few months into the pandemic when we were on severe lock-down Iris called me to tell me she had signed up for a History of Protest Music in the U.S. Would I like to come down and share the zoom class with her? Sure. So, like two sneaky children breaking the pandemic rules we sat as far as we could in her room with masks on watching the origin of such
classic folk songs as ‘The House I Live In’, of the Weavers, Pete and Woody. We were in heaven. And now Iris is really there, her ears wide open to the celestial sounds.
Tribute by Linnea Richards 8/29/22