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Iris M. Charley

June 15, 1917 November 11, 2011

The iris flower means faith, hope, wisdom, courage and admiration, and is a perfect match for the life of Iris Charley. Fondly known by her family as "GG", she passed away on November 11, 2011, at the age of 94. Services will be held at Pearl Funeral Home on Saturday, November 19, at 1:00 p.m.

Iris was born in Sacramento, Calif., on June 15, 1917, to William and Fern Corcoran. She was the oldest of her siblings, Carol Corcoran (deceased), Gerald Corcoran (deceased), Myron Corcoran, and Lily Curtis.

The Corcoran family moved to Medford, Ore., in 1930, when Iris was 13 years old. Because her mother did not drive, she drove a car behind her father during the move. She was no stranger to driving because, a year earlier at the age of 12, she drove her father to the doctor when he had an appendicitis attack.

During the Great Depression, while a freshman in high school, Iris and Carol lived without their parents so the family could collect a twenty dollar per month subsidy from the Butte Falls School District. She graduated from Medford High School in 1934. The school building, which is now the old South Medford (Central) High School, was two years old.

On December 7, 1941, she was a witness to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. She was living on a hill overlooking the Navy base, and she told stories of being able to see "the whites of the eyes" of the Japanese pilots as they flew above her house before sweeping down on the harbor. After the attacks Iris, while pregnant with her first son, Bill, and her two daughters, Jacque and Glo, were relocated to the mainland in transport ships under the escort of Navy destroyers. During the voyage, Iris could hear the depth charges as the Navy responded to sightings of Japanese submarines.

Iris was married to Eldred Charley (deceased), son of Floyd and Mary Charley. Eldred worked as a weighmaster for the Oregon State Highway Department. Together they raised five children and well over one hundred foster children. They kept five to ten foster boys at a time with the expectation that they would be treated the same as their natural children. Some were kept short term, but many were kept for years throughout their childhood. Many of the foster boys have kept in touch and consider Eldred and Iris the only parents that they ever had.

Iris's children are Glowrene (Ray) Gwin (both deceased), Jacque (Bob) Maentz, Bill (Judy) Charley, Curt (Val) Charley, and Kevin (Libby) Charley. Foster children who remained close are Gary Neal, Kit Jepson and John Swartsfager. Her 16 grandchildren are Colleen Evans, Kelly (Tim) Ryan, Shawn (Michael) Mega, Glen (DeeAnn) Newton, Scot (Lynn) Newton, Justin (Stacy) Johnson, Tami Maentz, Bill (Karen) Maentz, Tori (Paul) Marshall, Rob Maentz, Shana (Rich) Brewer, Spike Charley, Kori (Ron) Walker, Seth Charley, Jocelyn Charley, and Jared Charley. She is also survived by 35 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren. Iris wanted to be called "GG", short for great-grandma.

GG was the matriarch of the family. She always kept abreast of the lives of all of us, making her the information source for the entire family. She made sure that all 94 of us had Christmas gifts. Her love for her family was apparent when she made painstaking preparations for a smooth transition after her passing. None of us have seen anyone more able to give unconditional love, more willing to accept our shortcomings, and to be proud of our achievements. She is adored by everyone who knew her. Among her last words were, "I had a beautiful life." Beautiful she was.