Iris Ann Lankford Woods

Published 3:30 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Iris Ann Lankford Woods died peacefully at home surrounded by family on February 14 following a 2-1/2 year battle with cancer. Iris was born January 22, 1933 in Franklin, Virginia, the daughter of the late Samuel Winfield and Clara Cotton Lankford.

She and her identical twin sister, Irene, were the youngest in a family of 10 children who shared a special love and affection for each other while growing up on their Tidewater farm. In 1950 she graduated from Franklin High School as valedictorian of her class. She married the love of her life, Samuel Baker Woods, Jr., at Western Ave. Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, N.C. on May 29, 1952. Iris and Sam relocated to Norfolk, Va., where they lived until moving to Charlotte in 1965.

After relocating to Charlotte, she joined Carmel Presbyterian Church where she remained a member until her death. She enjoyed many roles there with the Presbyterian Women and delighted in the dear friends she made and nurtured at Carmel Church, especially in the “Nooners” Wednesday prayer group. Iris used her great gifts of compassion and hospitality to quietly support and minister to those in need. After serving as President of the Women of the Church, Iris was honored with the Life Time Membership Award.

Iris was a lover of things beautiful. She excelled in the domestic arts. She collected antiques and kept an immaculate home. Her garden had a variety of plantings and annual flowers. Of particular enjoyment to her was her home in Blowing Rock, where she spent relaxing summers and inspiring falls. A wonderful southern cook and baker, she will be remembered for her legendary cheese biscuits. She created a place of hospitality for her large extended family. A favorite tradition was planning and leading the annual Lankford Thanksgiving family reunion, a gathering of more than 70 family and friends that has occurred for over one-half century. An avid reader, Iris had a great passion for lifelong learning. She loved the fields of medicine, Christian doctrine and theology, poetry, English literature and English grammar. She read the newspaper cover to cover daily.

In addition to her husband, Iris is survived by three daughters and sons-in-law: Jennifer Woods Parker (Van); Amy Woods Brinkley (Robert); and Joanna Woods Owen (Jeff); six beloved grandchildren: Mary Grace Owen, Samuel Thomas Brinkley; Clara Frances Owen; Hadley Claire Parker; Rebecca Frances Brinkley, and Anna Woods Parker. Iris is also survived by one brother, Aubrey Lankford of Franklin, Va.; brother-in-law Don Woods and wife Charlene of Montreat, N.C.; and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.

A memorial service will be held on Thursday, February 17 at 2:30 pm at Carmel Presbyterian Church with the Revs. James Szyeller and Kathleen Crowe officiating. The family will receive friends at the church after the service. A private burial will precede the memorial service.

The family would like to thank the Lankford nieces, nephews and great-nieces who visited and called on Iris and Sam often; Dr. Gary Frenette and staff including Terri, Rachel and Seda; the staff at Hospice and Palliative Care, especially Denise and Heather; her compassionate, professional caregivers Ica, Marie, Annette, Latricia, Lee, Elsie and Elma; and Linda for keeping everyone fed.

Memorials may be made to the Carmel Presbyterian Church Building Fund, 2048 Carmel Road, Charlotte NC 28226 or to Hospice and Palliative Care, 7845 Little Ave., Charlotte NC 28226.

Heritage Funeral Home, 3700 Forest Lawn Drive, Matthews, NC 28104 is serving the family. Online guestbook is available at