October 12, 1929 – August 23, 2022
Iris Edinger died on August 23, 2022. All Change Links readers are invited to a Memorial Program, to be held the weekend of December 17-18 at Emerson Unitarian Church in Canoga Park. Address: 7304 Jordan Avenue, Canoga Park, CA 91303.
We are planning for an EDUCATIONAL EVENT where you might learn some fun and interesting things about your country, the U.S.A.
Saturday December 17th. 2:30 PM
An optional, short informal Start-Up Event. We will be playing some of Iris’ favorite songs, and talking about the political context of the years when Iris lived.
Sunday December 18th. 1:00 PM
Our MAIN EVENT Memorial Program with speakers, videos, food and music. Family and friends will be here to tell you all about Iris and remember the good times.
Iris was born in Detroit, Michigan. Her mother was from a Slovak-American family and her father was Polish. Her father’s name was Tadeusz Mosiejewski; but as Iris describes the story, her mother Ann gave him an ultimatum to change his name before she’d marry him.
Not only that! He could not go by the name of Mosie, like his other relatives did. The name had to be Mason. And so we have Thad L. Mason, Ann E. Mason, and their daughter Iris N. Mason.
Iris spent her childhood years in northern Ohio. As a five-year-old her job was to open the gate and let in the cows in the evening, at her uncle’s farm in Newton Falls. The young Mason 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. But the Masons got into hot water with their neighbors when Ann Mason took charge of a newsletter and wrote up stories about some of the families’ home countries in Europe. Some of the neighbors saw it as very important to quit being Polish or Italian and focus on being American.
Thad Mason was involved with labor unions and other radical causes during the 1930s, and he sent Iris several seasons to a summer camp run by the International Workers Order, outside Cleveland. That was a place for learning the U.S. radical tradition.
Iris spent her teenage years in Tucson, Arizona, and graduated from the University of Arizona, before moving to Los Angeles to attend USC library school in 1950. She earned additional Masters degrees in English and Anthropology, from UCLA and CSUN.
Iris met her future husband Eddie Edinger at the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles. From a previous marriage Eddie had a young daughter, Karen. Iris and Eddie got married in 1957, and during the 1960s they would have two boys, Steven and Evan.
Iris began working as a secondary school teacher in Los Angeles in 1957, and stayed with the LA Unified Schools for 34 years — mainly at Birmingham High School and its sister school, Mulholland Junior High, in the neighborhood of Van Nuys. She taught English and Social Studies. Many copies of Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States soon landed in the San Fernando Valley. One more subject was English as a Second Language (ESL). Iris especially liked the ESL classes: she mentioned that the newly arrived students from foreign countries showed a greater appreciation for teachers.
The Songmakers are a group that began here in Los Angeles in the early 1960s. Iris and her husband Eddie were among the founding members of Songmakers, from when the group began in Griffith Park, at a small amphitheater below the trail to the Observatory. The original Songmakers organization went by the name People´s Songs West.
Iris was a major participant in political activism, but in ways that you might not expect. During the Vietnam Era, she was not one of the protesters arrested at the Pentagon or the Chicago Democratic National Convention; and in the year 1970 she was already 40 years old. Instead, Iris Edinger was with a slightly older group of activists, who held down full-time jobs and donated money to the organizations that sponsored the marches and the protests. Iris showed up in person when she could. The movement that shut down the U.S. military intervention in Vietnam was a successful team effort, a multi-generational team effort.
In the early 1970s Eddie’s daughter Karen was one of the college students who walked out on to U.S. Highway 101, outside Santa Barbara, and blocked the freeway. This kind of action happened as a conscious decision — to interfere with BUSINESS AS USUAL!
The U.S. Vietnam Era protest movement evolved into the antinuclear movement of the late 1970s and the Central America solidarity movement of the 1980s. Iris Edinger signed up 200 percent for these campaigns. She brought along her two boys and occasionally her husband to the protests at San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant and the Westwood Federal Building.
During the 1980s she signed up for a delegation that visited Nicaragua and helped build a school in the town of Tipitapa. En route to Nicaragua, Iris recruited a young Canadian named Hank Beeksma – who later invited Iris to attend his wedding in Alberta Canada. The couple in Alberta would not allow gifts: instead, they asked people to donate money for installing a water pump in the town of Tipitapa, Nicaragua. And it happened: Tipitapa soon had improved drinking water.
Iris’ stepdaughter Karen is married to Dzevad Belkic of Yugoslavia, and they live in Sweden. Iris’ son Steven is married to Maricruz Huerta of Mexico, and they live here in Los Angeles. Iris’ son Evan is married to Jennifer Rendell of Canada, and they live in the Canadian province of Newfoundland. We also know one more Canadian, Jean Roy: he was married to Karen for a few years back in the 1970s!
Iris’ grandchildren, here in California are Sebastian Santiago, and Benjamin. Iris’ grandchildren in Newfoundland are Garnet, Jasper and Kieran.