Iris Blue turns 80

There are some very special people in Tumbler Ridge. Many of them have amazing life stories that are not generally known, because these folks tend to be modest. One such resident is Iris Blue.

This is a particularly important time to tip our hats to Iris, firstly because she has just reached the wonderful age of eighty years, but also because of the Olympics that many of us are watching daily on TV.

Turn the clock back sixty-six years to 1939, to when fourteen year old Iris was pulling in one national gold medal after the next in her age category in the 110 yards sprints on the track in Brighton, England. It was predicted that it was just a matter of time before she would make the English Olympic team.

Those hopes were dashed by World War II, and like most fourteen year olds in England at the time, Iris had to quit school and learn to work as part of the war effort. She spent the next years welding smoke floats to protect the troops. She was never able to return to athletics.

Her four brothers were boxers, and one day they brought home a soldier friend, Roy Blue, a Cree boxer from Alberta who was part of the Canadian Armed Forces in England. Ten days before he returned to Canada, he and Iris were married. Brides had to wait a year till they could follow their grooms to Canada, and a year later she disembarked at Halifax and caught a train to Calgary to meet Roy for a honeymoon at the Stampede.

They settled in a small town Alberta where they operated a mink farm and sawmill, living in a one room log house without power or running water, and raised two girls. The younger of these daughters ironically moved back to England, where she has lived for 37 years.

Roy Blue passed away in 2000 after being married to Iris for 55 years. Iris, her daughter Dianne (married to Walter), grandson Tyler (married to Nicole) and great grandkids Elliot and Jade moved to Tumbler Ridge in 2001 and form one of the precious extended families in town.

Maybe we could consider, when watching these Winter Olympics in Turin, that such wonderful global events are possible because of the sacrifices that people like Iris Blue made, giving up their own Olympic dreams.

Congratulations on your 80th birthday, Iris, and may you be blessed with many more happy years in Tumbler Ridge!