Ayer, Rev. Iris L., passed away peacefully, Thursday morning, January 21, 2021 from complications of pneumonia. Eldest daughter of Lula Frances (Skaggs), (a seamstress and homemaker) and William Tad Arnett (barber, business owner, and entrepreneur), she was born April 7, 1932. She had 4 brothers and 2 sisters. A sister, Mary Etta (Alan Sr.) Brown survives her. She was part of a large, loyal and loving family. As a girl with two older brothers, Iris developed her skills for pithy responses, athleticism, fearlessness and competition. She had a quick response and keen wit that never left her and made her a favored friend by many. As a teen, Iris developed a deep desire to help people find peace and more elevated lives through her participation at “The South Bend Tabernacle”, pastored by Lester Sumrall. It was her desire to help others which led her to North Central Bible College to pursue Theology and develop her interest in becoming a missionary. There she met her husband of 64 years, Robert B. Ayer (preceding her in death, May 5, 2018). After graduation, they married in South Bend, on January 30, 1954. They became ordained ministers. Iris earned the distinction of being the first woman ordained minister with the Assembly of God Church. She pastored for 15 years, with her husband, raising a family and tending their congregations in Iowa. In 1969, she relocated their family to South Bend to be near her extended family, she remained active in Christian Center church until health prevented.
Iris, with sewing skills learned from her mother, worked at Dutron Corporation, where she retired in 1995 after 23 years. During her tenure, her work ethic, communication skills, and ability to see both sides of an issue earned her promotions and the role of Union President for Local #571, as well as a seat on the Chicago Joint Board of the AFL-CIO. Iris was also member of the Genealogical Society, local garden club and joined her husband in attending SAR (Sons of the American Revolution) meetings, during his presidency of same.
Iris is survived by her children, Diane Davis (Kerry), Debra Ayer, David Ayer (Tannia), and Delores Johnson, eight grandchildren: Jeff Bradberry (Christina), Kristina Wood, Holly Duke (Brian), Brandon Ayer, Delilah Harris, Jemma Harris, Alexandra Johnson, Zachary Johnson and a great-granddaughter, Alaina.
Iris was known to her family and close friends as direct, decisive, ethical, generous, kind, loyal, quick witted, intelligent, industrious, creative, resourceful and passionate… about all things of importance to her, love, family, faith, and service to others. She was a trailblazer, barrier-crosser, breaker-of-glass ceilings and set this example for her children. She believed anything worth doing, was worth doing well. Her legacy is love, a lifetime of stories, colorful tales, meaningful parables and most importantly the values she lived in her daily life: honesty, purpose, and care for humankind. She touched many lives and in doing so made a difference for the better.
Visitation and Memorial Service arrangements: Palmer Funeral Home, Guisinger Chapel, 3718 S. Michigan St., South Bend. Open visitation from 2p-4p Sunday, January 24, 2021, with the memorial service immediately following at 4pm, with Minister Daniel Nagle. A private graveside funeral service for family will be at Southlawn Cemetery.
Memorial contributions in memory of Iris may be made to Christian Center Church. 530 East Ireland Road, South Bend, N 46614. Online condolences may be sent to www.palmerfuneralhomes.com
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Iris L (Arnett) Ayer, please visit our floral store.
Christian Center Church
530 E. Ireland Road, South Bend IN 46614