Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 11, 2013

Iris Pauline (Oatley) Steffen


TRAVERSE CITY — Iris Steffen, 95, of Traverse City, passed away Jan. 9, 2013, at Orchard Creek Supportive Care. Iris Pauline (Oatley) Steffen, was born July 21, 1917, in Kewadin, to parents, Clarence W. Oatley and Jessie C. (Waring) Oatley.

She graduated from Michigan State College in 1939 with a Bachelor of Science degree in medical biology and did a one year internship at Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids.

She worked at Albion Memorial Hospital for a year and then designed and operated a private laboratory in Albion for a group of doctors.

Iris enlisted in WAAC in Toledo, Ohio, Feb. 23, 1943. She had basic training in Ft. Oglethorpe, Ga. She then transferred to Army Administrative School in Denton, Texas. Later, she was assigned to Lowry Field, Denver, Colo., working as a medical technician at the station hospital.

There Iris met her future husband; she married John H. Steffen, Sergeant, on Oct. 11, 1943, at Lowry Field Chapel, in the first all-military wedding held there since World War I. Iris was honorably discharged on Oct. 9, 1944, as Corporal.

She worked as a bacteriologist at the Florida Board of Health in Tampa, Fla. John was discharged from Drew Field, Tampa, in December of 1945.

Iris moved to Gary, Ind., in 1946 and later in 1946 to Arvada, Colo. Iris and John adopted a son, James L. Steffen, and they moved home to Kewadin in 1952.

John worked for the Traverse City Record-Eagle for 31 years and helped on the Oatley Farm. Iris studied for the ministry and served in the Yuba Methodist Church for one year.

After John retired they traveled extensively until his death in 1998 when Iris moved to Hope Village, Williamsburg. Her hobbies included fishing, rock jewelry making, camping, gardening, reading, cards and playing in the Senior Center Kitchen Band.

Iris was preceded in death by her parents; husband, John; and son, James.

She is survived by three grandchildren, James, Deborah and Gwendolyn; and four great-grandchildren, Sarah, David, Emma and Lars.

A memorial service with military honors will be held on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, at 3 p.m., at Hope Village in Williamsburg.

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Arrangements have been entrusted to Covell Funeral Home of Traverse City.