Iris C. Kennedy Weatherred
Iris C. Kennedy Weatherred
October 3, 1916 – July 30, 2012
Born to James Homer Kennedy and Jeannette Watson Kennedy in Farmersville, TX, on a farm in the Farmersville area, Iris was one of 8 children who lived to adulthood. There they picked cotton, raised their own pork and beef, grew their own vegetables and added to the Kennedy clan the additional family members of grandparents and nephews and nieces who had lost their mother. Her grandfather gave the land to build a church called The Bethlehem Baptist Church in the community. Her father led “singing” at the church and most of her family ancestors are buried in the little cemetery next to the old church. There beside the church was the old “brush arbor” where the extended Kennedy clan had many reunions, family get-togethers, cemetery work days and more fried chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, homemade ice cream and watermelon than you could say grace over. She was the last of the 8 siblings. The loving connection of the Kennedy family will always be cherished as an incredible blessing and those ties still bind.
She met Wayne B. Weatherred at a social at a friend’s home, and when he saw her going up the stairs, he told his friend that “that’s the woman I’m going to marry” — even though she was engaged to someone else. After only 3 dates they, along with Wayne’s uncle and aunt as their witnesses, went to the Preacher’s house to be married on February 20, 1936. The “preacher” was in his overalls plowing in the garden and just wiped his hands and performed the ceremony. That simple blessing lasted almost 58 years until Wayne died in December 1994. They absolutely adored each other and theirs was a true love story with Dad sending her a rose for every year on their 24th anniversary presenting her with a new wedding ring on their 25th – with her protesting that the old one was the only one she ever wanted even though it had worn razor thin– and her loving and caring for him in his declining years. They had one daughter, Waynell Weatherred Gregory (one of those Texas things to name girls after their Daddy).
Wayne worked as an Ironworker and a cowboy most of his life. He and his brothers had a “riveting gang” who were renowned and prized by steel construction companies. As a result, the family moved all over the US to various bridge, power plant, building, or steel construction jobs of all types. Many times when a construction crew came to an area, the availability of housing was extremely scarce and what was available was sometimes horrible. Iris made sure it was immaculately clean, pleasant and a place one could be proud to call “home” regardless of the situation. Sometimes they had an outhouse, a wood cook stove and a pot-belly stove, no hot water, and bathed in a washtub in the kitchen by the woodstove. She always sought out a church, enrolled Waynell in school and met with the principal and teachers. She often was apologetic about the temporary situation and upheaval of moving Waynell from school to school. One principal told her that Waynell was seeing and experiencing places, people and things that other children only read about and with the love, attention, and family around her that she would be just fine.
When Wayne worked as a cowboy, he worked on the Four Sixes Ranch and the Neal Ranch in West Texas. Using the lye soap she made, she did laundry in a huge cast iron kettle in the backyard under which she built a fire and agitated the laundry with a big stick. She then rinsed and wrung each piece by hand before hanging on the line. They couldn’t have a water heater because of the gypsum in the ground so drinking water was rainwater caught and charcoal filtered off the roof into the cistern below the back porch. She was a crack-shot with a gun, eliminating many rattlesnakes and seemed afraid of nothing. She cooked for and fed the ranch hands during wheat harvest and roundup time. Wayne milked the cows and Iris and Waynell made butter by shaking a gallon jar of cream until it became butter. Wayne shot several geese and ducks one winter and all had goose for Thanksgiving dinner and feather pillows and comforters for quite some time.
Iris went to “beauty school” in about 1944 and worked in various beauty shops when time and place allowed. In about 1953, she started her own business with her own beauty shop in Ft. Worth, Texas, which she operated until about 1964.
She was an untrained but very good seamstress making almost all of Waynell’s clothes as she grew up, made formals for both her granddaughters, bridesmaids’ dresses for her daughter’s and granddaughters’ weddings, sewed elk hide for a vest for her son-in-law, baby clothes and receiving blankets for all her grandchildren and great grandchildren, always doing anything she could for her family.
Upon Wayne’s death, she moved to Prairie Village to be near her only child. She lived alone until she was 95+ and was still insisting that she could continue to do so when her health failed and she moved to a nursing facility in January 2012.
She is survived by her daughter, Waynell Gregory, son-in-law Scott Gregory, granddaughter Nicia Gdanski and her husband Greg Gdanski, their sons, Scott and James; granddaughter Shana Lee Gregory-Williams, her husband Cameron Williams and their children, Abbie, Carter and Griffin; many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews, and their extended families on both the Kennedy and Weatherred sides of the family. She outlived all her family of that generation but the following generations will remember and miss her very much.
She was a good, loving, caring wife, Mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and her family was of utmost importance to her. Some of her last words repeated over and over and over were “I love you more than anything in the world.” I have absolutely no doubt about that, Mom. I love you, too, and I’m glad we had the chance to say that to each other just one more time even if the days and nights were long on that journey to the last day.