Iris Christine Estridge, 100, of Bethune, S.C. passed away peacefully in her home during the early morning hours of Christmas.
Born February 1, 1922, Iris was the oldest child and only daughter of Edward Small McCaskill (Daddy Mac) and Maude Jones McCaskill (Mama Mac). She grew up in the Timrod Community of Bethune before attending Spartanburg Methodist College and then Winthrop Teacher’s College where she graduated in 1942. After graduation, she began a teaching career that would span five decades including the time she was called out of retirement to help in local schools.
Iris began dating Edwin Estridge, whom she had known since childhood, until he was sent to flight training in the Army Air Corps in 1942. Knowing he would soon be deployed, he asked Iris to marry him. In February of 1943, Iris took her first trip out of the Carolinas when she traveled by train and bus to Tucson, Arizona to marry Edwin. They moved briefly to Homestead, Florida, until Edwin deployed to the European Theater in August of 1943. Iris returned home to South Carolina and resumed teaching while she awaited Edwin’s return. Although Edwin was declared Missing in Action and later found to be a Prisoner of War, Iris never wavered in her belief that he would return home to her. He finally did in 1945, and they soon after established their new home and farm in the Timrod Community where they enjoyed 55 years of marriage until Edwin’s passing in 1998.
In 1950, Iris’s only child Eddie (Ed) was born. When asked if she ever wanted more children, she always joyfully declared that she had painted her masterpiece the first time. Although Iris was a very strong and independent woman who lived alone after her husband’s death, Eddie always looked after his mother and was by her side in her final days.
Through her career as a teacher, Iris touched the lives of virtually everyone in her small hometown. She taught multiple subjects at Bethune High School and was named Teacher of the Year. It was a true joy of her family to run into her former students over the years who would almost always recount her wisdom, kindness, fairness, and beauty! She was also a lifelong learner who read constantly.
Iris was also very involved in her home church, Timrod Baptist, which she attended for a full century! She served many roles in the church, from teaching Sunday school to acting as the church treasurer. She enjoyed her church family immensely and especially enjoyed being recognized on Mother’s Day as “Oldest Mother” in recent years.
Iris was a fantastic cook and loved feeding her family and friends, especially fresh vegetables from the family garden. She shared her love of cooking and baking with anyone who asked. Of note was her fried chicken, fried okra, Italian cream cake, and lemon meringue pie. Anything she put on the table was pretty darn good.
Of her many fine accomplishments and attributes, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren would say her role as their Mima was her greatest gifting. She loved, shaped, and guided them all in a way that can never be forgotten.
Iris was a life-long servant of Jesus Christ who spread His message to everyone she met, though not necessarily by preaching the Gospel. Most often, it was through the loving kindness and grace she extended and the humility she displayed. Her gentle, peaceful spirit was a bellwether to all who had the good fortune of knowing her.
Iris is survived by her loving son, Ed Estridge Jr. of Camden, her grandchildren Mac Estridge (Michelle) of Chapin, Ashton Estridge (Nikki) of Mount Pleasant, Kelly Kercher (Ed) of Mount Pleasant, and great-grandchildren Evan, Kylie, Harper, Sophie, Silas, Sullivan, and Jack. She is also survived by her baby-brother Smith McCaskill (Gail) of Bethune, sister-in-law Esther McCaskill of Bethune and numerous nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her loving husband of 55 years, Edwin; daughter-in law Janice Estridge; and brothers Ralph (LaVaughn) McCaskill and Marvin McCaskill.
The family will receive friends at Baker Funeral Home, Kershaw, SC on Wednesday, December 28th, from 6-8PM. A funeral service will be held at Timrod Baptist Church in Bethune on Thursday, December 29th, at 11AM with burial in the Timrod Baptist Church cemetery following.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Timrod Baptist Church, 4227 Timrod Road, Bethune, S.C. 29009 or the Kershaw County Humane Society, 128 Black River Road, Camden, S.C. 29020.
Arrangements are under the care of Baker Funeral Home, Kershaw, SC.