Iris Ogawa Horner, age 77, died peacefully at her home in Okemos, MI on October 10, 2023. Iris was a baby boomer, born in Idaho Falls, ID on March 14, 1946 to Yoshinori “Yosie” Ogawa and Fumiko “Alice” Hayashida Ogawa. The oldest of four girls, Iris will be missed by her sisters Lois (Frank) Hasebe, Janis (Jerry Kirk) Ogawa, and Tyris (Peter) Thomas, who all shared bittersweet memories of growing up together on their parents’ Idaho farm.
Iris will be remembered as a loving wife of 55 years to David Horner and a loving mother to Tamiko (MC) Rothhorn and Mark (Mellina) Horner. She and David have four granddaughters: Katarina Rothhorn (21), Mori Rothhorn (19), Marcella Mutti Horner (5) and Milla Mutti Horner (1). Iris loved to spend time with family and create family memories through travel and exploration of new places, new activities and new ideas. She visited over 30 countries during her lifetime and was a year-long host-mom twice for international high school students.
Iris was co-salutatorian of the Vallivue High School class of 1963 and was voted most talented; “Her golden voice like a summer day” per her yearbook. She then graduated from the College of Idaho after spending a scholarship year at the East-West Center in Hawaii, where she and David met. Iris later earned a Masters degree in Education from Washington State University. Iris was a gifted elementary school music teacher with young children in the Pullman, WA and East Lansing, MI School Districts. She shared her love of music by integrating ideas about caring for others and the earth through songs about racial diversity and environmental protection. In 1991-1992, Iris was selected to represent East Lansing Schools in an international teacher-exchange program, where she taught elementary music at the International School in Taipei, Taiwan. In 1999, Iris retired from the East Lansing Public Schools when health issues stopped her from being able to play the accordion.
Iris was involved with helping international students at Michigan State University for many years through her volunteer work with CVIP (Community Volunteers for International Programs) where she coordinated the international friendship program for many years. Iris also was a long-term member and leader of the Asian Pacific Women’s Association (APAWA) and helped raise money for refugee families in the Lansing area and scholarships for Asian and Asian American college-bound students.
A very resilient woman, Iris didn’t complain about the health issues that she determinedly worked to overcome. She carried an optimism in dark times that shone a light of encouragement for others. She has been a role model of integrity, wisdom and perseverance.
A Celebration of Life service and reception for Iris O. Horner will be held at 3:00pm on Saturday, November 4, 2023 at the Presbyterian Church of Okemos. For those who wish to make a donation in Iris’ name, she asked that memorial contributions be made to APAWA (Asian Pacific American Women’s Association), the David D. Horner International Student Scholarship Fund (AP0031) at Michigan State University or the Presbyterian Church of Okemos-Mission Fund.