9/20/2012 – It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of Iris Stagner, a member of the BikeTexas family. Iris worked as an administrator in Palo Pinto County and was a mother, wife, BikeTexas board member, friend, state leader in promoting bicycle safety and education, and avid bicycle racer. She was killed Monday while doing what she loved, riding her bicycle, heading from her work in Palo Pinto to her home in Mineral Wells. Her death is a terrible loss to Texas and the cycling community.
Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband Butch Stagner, her children and grandchildren, and the rest of her very close family. (You can read Iris’s obituary here.)
Friends of Iris will gather for a memorial ride before her funeral on Friday, September 21, in Mineral Wells. The five-mile ride will start from the parking lot of the Palo Pinto General Hospital, 400 SW 25th Avenue, Mineral Wells, Texas. The hospital is about 1.5 miles west of downtown Mineral Wells, one block south of the intersection of US 180 and 25th Avenue. If you would like to join the ride, please plan to be at the parking lot at 12:30 PM.
The ride will head west on US 180 past the site of the crash that took Iris from us, and then proceed to Indian Creek Baptist Church. Cyclists are requested to form a procession behind the ride pacers, ride together in silence at a slow pace, and to line up on Indian Creek Road in front of the church for the arrival of the funeral procession. The Palo Pinto County Sheriff’s Department will provide escort and traffic control for the ride.
I first met Iris when she called me several years ago and inquired about getting “Share the Road” signs posted on rural roads in her county. We worked together to develop a strategy which she successfully implemented.
The taste of victory was sweet and Iris was ready to do more. The Safe Passing bill had been introduced in the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate. Iris secured a letter of support from the Palo Pinto County Commissioners that made a strong positive impression on many rural legislators. She then traveled to Austin so we could meet with her State Rep. Jim Keffer and State Senator Craig Estes. Iris was very persuasive and won both legislators over to support the bill. Representative Keffer even joined the bill as a co-author!
The joy, courage and leadership exhibited by Iris was very appealing. Iris was recruited to join the BikeTexas Board of Directors where she has served the last two years. She has a been a tireless volunteer and champion for Texas cyclists of all types and ages, not just her fellow racers. Iris believed in giving back and wanted to see more racers engaged in bicycle advocacy and making conditions safer for the current and next generation.
She loved the bicycle trail in Mineral Wells and the protected bikeways that are catching on around the world, but she could not resist the beautiful, open Texas roads. Iris believed the roads exist for all users and we should exercise our rights as Americans to use them. She had been harassed and threatened while cycling by aggressive drivers many times over the years but she would not be intimidated.
Iris knew she was a safe and skilled bicycle rider and did not take unnecessary chances. She also said, “If I die while riding my bike then I will go out doing what I love.” Iris knew that the more bicyclists there are in a community, the safer it is for all of them. Unfortunately for all of us, Iris Stagner, age 54, died about fifty years too soon.