Iris Shirley Hewin Eskew died peacefully Thursday, August 19, 2021 at her home in the Presbyterian Village Austell, Cobb County surrounded by family and friends. Born in Aiken, South Carolina on July 19, 1924, Iris moved to Atlanta in 1944 to join the war effort as a secretary at the Bell Bomber plant in Marietta, GA. It was there she met her husband of 67 years, Robert E. "Bob" Eskew. Together they adopted Atlanta as their lifelong home.
As an active member and Elder at First Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, Iris took on many missions. She helped form Aurora House, a ministry serving the homeless hippie youth on what was known as "The Strip" in Midtown. Iris was also responsible for starting a refugee resettlement program at First Presbyterian. That ministry started with a Vietnamese refugee family of 10 brought to safety in Atlanta after the fall of Saigon. For her, these first refugees were more than charity, they became family.
Iris Eskew's life was defined by family, faith, and friendship. She did foundational work with Friendship Force and the Atlanta Ministry to International Students (AMIS). Iris also served as Chairman of the Board at Villa International which assists visitors working at the CDC. She worked to build community and friendship that reached across the globe. Iris was an organizing member of the International Class at First Presbyterian. She led four tours of the Holy Land. She traveled extensively, making friends everywhere she went. Being a friend was a longterm commitment for Iris, she played bridge with the same group of ladies for 50 years.
At 4'11", Iris Eskew was an unassuming power. Frequently soft-spoken and always charming, she felt at home with the needy and world leaders alike. She was a woman who brought everyone in and included them as family. She said, "I would like to be remembered for all the friends I have made through the years, especially my international friends."
She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert E. "Bob" Eskew, and her sister Jean Hewin. She is survived by 6 children: Rhea Taylor, Martha Iris, Robert Edward Jr, Samuel Winton, Charles Richard Tomkins, and Fouad AbuAkel; 9 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren, and scores who think of her as a mother and a friend.
A Celebration of Life will be held at Presbyterian Village Austell, Saturday, September 11, and a Memorial Service will be held at First Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, Sunday, September 12, 2021.
Iris requested that in lieu of flowers donations should be made to her favorite charities: St Jude Hospital (https://www.stjude.org/donate/donate-to-st-jude.html) or Heiffer International (https://www.heifer.org/give/one-time.html)