Iris Searcy Owen, a resident of Malvern for the past sixty years, went to be with the Lord December 21, 2017 at the age of 104 years.
She was born in Rison, Arkansas, June 23, 1913, to Benjamin Young and June Ederington Searcy, who named her Iris, the Greek word for Rainbow.
She taught the fourth grade in the Rison school system where she met Hugh Owen when he went to Rison in 1936 to teach Math, Latin, Typing, coach the football team and the girls’ basketball team. They married in Rison June 20, 1936, left for their honeymoon on Lake Catherine, had a flat tire between Rison and Sheridan, and ate their first family meal in the Elite Café in Malvern.
When Hugh entered the ministry and went to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, Iris audited many of the Bible courses there. This aided her greatly during the next six decades she taught Sunday school classes.
Iris used her considerable musical talent to play the piano for the services where Hugh was pastor: Second Baptist Church in Conway, 1942-1948, and the Lee Memorial Baptist Church (now First Baptist Church of White Hall) 1948-1957. Until recent months, she played for forty-five minutes a day the piano her father had bought for $300 a few years before his death in 1915. “It’s my hobby,” she explained.
Hugh said he could never have done the work he did without her. “The churches put up with me because of her,” he confessed. With his weight always near 200 pounds, he said, “I’m a testimony to her good cooking.” She loved to cook and to read cookbooks. She often risked testing new recipes on church groups at their potluck meals. Most of the time they did fine. Once, at age 99, she drove to a local establishment and bought some meatloaf. She didn’t like it, so the next time she went there, she took them her meatloaf recipe and suggested they use it instead.
She heeded the admonition of St. Peter to be ready always to give an account of the hope she had in Christ, not having any reluctance to testify for the Lord. Sometimes she got strange responses from strangers, like when she asked a lady she met in a doctor’s office, “Do you know Jesus?” The Lady answered, “No, I don’t live around here.”
As a mother, she taught her three children Bible stories as soon as they could understand the English Language, perhaps even before.
She is predeceased by her husband Hugh and her daughter Cherie. She is survived by her sons: David of Malvern and Ben and his wife Elaine of Lynchburg, Virginia. A service of Thanksgiving to God for the Life of Iris Searcy Owen is scheduled for 11:00 A. M., December 30, at the Third Baptist Church in Malvern. The church will be open at 10:00 A.M. for a viewing and visitation. We invite all who can sing in the choir to meet for rehearsal at 10:00 A.M. A meal will follow the burial at Resthaven Cemetery. Atkinson Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.
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