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1927 Iris 2023

Iris Brigham

February 15, 1927 — April 11, 2023

Madison

Our lovely and iridescent Iris, deeply rooted in familial love, motherly protection, and spontaneous acts of joy; you bloomed for 96 years. Plucked by the Lord for His safe keeping and enjoyment, from your beautiful home on the 11th of April 2023, your spirit is free.

Raised on the McDonald family farm in Briggsville, WI, born on February 15th, 1927, to the prolific fruit bearing Lottie and Orrie McDonald, Iris was one of fourteen children. Evenly balanced with seven girls and seven boys, she never was in want for playmates nor chore assistants. Of the many varied childhood experiences, Iris credits the dent in her head from her young crush Harold, just a wee lad, with a strong arm and a large rock, and apparently great aim, for thwarting her love for him, and thus waiting for the more perfectly and substantially more subtle suitor, Robert Brigham, whom she married in 1954. A second experience, and none the less dramatic, involved Doogan the pony. Being of the adventurous spirit, Iris would mount the pony, and gleefully trot around the farm. Without warning or notice Doogan, when tired of prancing this young princess about, would lower his head and at full gallop aim for the low hanging Oak tree branch, thus scraping the unaware Iris off, once again. And in this way prepared Iris for marriage and motherhood; approaching it with good faith, blind trust, joyful contentment, and out of nowhere, stunned by the unexpected. Yet, dust herself off and throw her little leg over Doogan’s back, she did.

Iris’s commitment to further her education led her to Northwestern Bible College. It took courage and drive to leave a life where one was expected to stay and help on the farm. She became a lifelong advocate for further education. Iris chummed with Hazel, a likeminded student and newfound friend and confidant. Together, they navigated the exciting collegiate world, staying on the good side of the stern and serious Head Mistress. After graduation, Iris landed a job at a law firm in Madison, WI. at which she excelled. In this world of lawyers, she was introduced to her life’s love, Robert Brigham, a young attorney with an untold affinity for the game of golf. Apparently, Golf Companion was a hidden clause of the marital agreement, to which Iris fulfilled with vigor. Many lifelong friendships and lively conversations were made on the Maple Bluff County Club golf course. Vacations to golf destinations such as Fort Bragg, Palm Desert, and Palm Springs became anticipated family gatherings.

Iris then entered into one of her most cherished phases of life, that of a mother. She would have liked seven children but compromised on four. John is the eldest and only son, Jill, the second born, and Mary and Martha, the twins, are last born. Iris was an attentive mother in all areas of her children’s lives; chauffeuring kids to school sporting practices and events, packing special request lunches, running alongside each child while precariously balanced on a bicycle at 4 years of age, custom designing and sewing clothes of which the fun fur capes and colorfully striped big bell bottom pants stand out, pulling onto farmland in her VW Beetle and announcing to the twelve and thirteen year olds they can drive the car on the tractor trails, nursing a sick and injured child with love and patience, and always listening to and supporting each one. She was visibly proud of her children and her grandchildren. Iris’s unconditional belief in and love for is a gift each one carries inside of them out into the world.

Iris was a longtime volunteer at Attic Angels, an avid bowler, upholsterer, art collector, and lifelong member of Plymouth Congregational Church. Iris and her daughter created an Instagram account @grannyandherwalker to fill the gap that losing a husband can create. Iris had many and varied wacky adventures all including her walker.

Iris will be remembered for many things including but not limited to; the bravery of repeated failed attempts till successfully waterskiing behind a 50hp aluminum boat on the Wisconsin River while harboring an inordinate fear of the water, constantly instructing her son’s friends to stop slouching and stand up straight and tall, teaching her young children that large item trash day meant treasure hunting and get on your bikes and go, finding a man and boat to fetch an enormous sized piece of driftwood and then in an act of brilliance, hang it on the front of her house, rescuing a mother cat and kitten in the back woods then unexpectedly stopping the dryer and pulling the kitten out with a newly crooked tail, egging on her son and much younger male golfers on one cold January day to continue on to play 18 holes and not quit at 9, refusing to turn the heat up all winter and handing her husband a jacket to sit in while reading the newspaper, and most recently, the warm and touching smile of love and appreciation spread across her face in her elderly and vulnerable years, for the kindness shown by one of her children or grandchildren.

Iris is survived by her loving children, John Robert (wife Mary Wandtke), Jill Iris (husband Todd Dover), Mary Brigham ( husband Steven Banovetz) and Martha McDonald. Her grandchildren are Steven Banovetz Jr., Zehara Brigham-Oakley, Filagot Brigham-Oakley, and Victor Banovetz. She is survived by her sister Barbara Wolfgram (husband Darwin) and brothers Philip McDonald, and Donald McDonald (wife Myra). She is also survived by many nieces, nephews, friends and family.

Iris was preceded in death by her husband, Robert Horatio, her parents Lottie and Orrie and her sisters, Olive, Jane, Sheila, Agatha and Patricia along with her brothers, Orriel, Maurice, Angus, Chester, and Mathew.

At Iris’s request, there will be no visitation or funeral. A private Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. The family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Agrace Hospice, Dr. Musa and staff at Dean Health, and Cress Funeral Home.

Cress Funeral & Cremation Service - East

(608) 249-6666

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Iris Brigham, please visit our flower store.

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