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Thursday, June 29, 2023
Starts at 9:45am (Eastern time)
Iris Mae Harkins went home to be with the Lord on June 23, 2023, and reunited with her beloved husband, L. James (Jim) Harkins, who went to his heavenly home in 2008. Also preceding her in death were her parents, Melvin and Lula Mae Grimes, her beloved sister, Joanne Sajben, and brothers, Winifred and David Grimes. A very special thank you to Iris’ dear granddaughter, Whitney Cooke, who dedicated the last couple years to stay by her side and give loving care to her grandma.
Iris was born November 16, 1926, in Akron, Ohio. She grew up in Kenmore, Ohio and played violin in the Kenmore High School orchestra. She continued to enjoy playing the violin with a local orchestra as an adult. She attended and graduated from Kent State University with a degree in elementary education. While at Kent State, she met, then went on to marry her husband, Jim. They enjoyed 61 years of marriage. Together, they built careers: Iris as a first-grade teacher and Jim as an attorney. Literally, with hammers and nails, they built the family home that grew larger as they raised eight children. They renovated and enjoyed a cottage at Lakeside on Lake Erie making treasured memories for their family. Over the years, nearly 20 horses came to live in the barn and most of the children competed in horse shows. Having a horse had been a childhood dream for Iris and her husband fulfilled that dream for her.
Iris and Jim lived a life of service to their Savior, Jesus Christ, throughout their lives. They were among the founding members of The Community Church of Portage Lakes where Iris spent many years as a Sunday School teacher and led the Junior Church services. After attending a presentation at church in 1954 by World Vision, Inc., and viewing the movie, “Dead Men on Furlough”, Iris and Jim felt called to adopt children from the post-war-torn country of South Korea. Nancy and Patricia arrived January of 1958, and less than two months later, Iris gave birth to Susan. In 1959, William and Tom were adopted and brought into the family, followed by Stephen and Rebecca in 1963. Iris and Jim dedicated time and support serving on the board of Holt International for many years. During their last trip to the Holt office in Seoul, Korea, a small baby found her way into Iris’ arms and there was an instant bond. That little baby became their last adopted daughter, Elizabeth, who arrived in 1974. Iris and Jim also sponsored several exchange students over the years. Beatriz Larde (Trixie) from El Salvador in Central American became a foreign exchange student in their home for a year. She and her children remain close members of the family to this day.
Iris loved her family, her home, and all the pets that came and went over the years, but her darling, Buddy, gave her the most comfort after the passing of her husband, Jim. Buddy missed Jim mightily, but he stayed by Iris’ side years longer than expected before his poor old soul could no longer keep his body going. Iris loved the woodsy land surrounding her home and watching the change of seasons. She taught us to appreciate the green sprouts, first crocus, and fragrant lilacs of spring. She shared her thrill in the brilliant colors of autumn leaves in the fall and the excitement of winter’s first snowflakes. She loved watching the horses graze and run about the paddocks at the front and back of her house. When younger, she enjoyed gardening and even raking autumn leaves. Perhaps she loved burning them most of all.
At the age of 96, Iris outlived her parents, siblings, and dearest friends. She leaves her children: William (Deborah) Harkins, Nancy (Gregory) Ruggaber, Thomas (fiancé, Carol) Harkins, Patricia Nelson, Susan Cooke, Beatriz Larde, Stephen Harkins, Rebecca (Troy) Bucher, and Elizabeth (Kevin) Martin; 13 grandchildren: Ryan, Timothy, Geoffrey, Andrew, Courtney, Lindsay, Paul, Alexander, Cindy, Shawna, Whitney, Madison, Chandler, and great-grandchildren: James, Cole, Benjamin, Charles, Caleb, and Adaline. She leaves nephews and nieces who were dear to her heart and always in her prayers. The grandchildren spent hours being rocked in Grandma Iris’ rocking chair. She wore out two of those rocking chairs and the third one now sits empty. She was a devoted wife who missed her husband dearly for more than 15 years; thinking about that reunion helps ease the grief.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Graveside Service will be 9:45 am, Thursday, June 29, 2023, at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery, 10175 Rawiga Road, Seville, Ohio 44273.