OBITUARY: Iris Burleson


Iris Burleson, 92, of Spruce Pine, passed on to her Heavenly Home Wednesday, May 6, 2020, at her home.

Born on Jan. 10, 1928, in the Red Hill community of Mitchell County, she was the daughter of the late Calvin Roscoe and Margie Roberts Garland. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by an infant brother, Floyd Garland; her husband, Lloyd Francis Burleson, who passed away in 2015; her sister, Evelyn Hall; and two stepmothers; Elizabeth Tipton Garland and Elmira Byrd Garland.

The Garland family moved to the Altapass community of Spruce Pine when Iris was a child, and Altapass is where her heart always remained. Iris was a graduate of Harris High School in 1944, and she was the valedictorian of her class. She attended Western Carolina University, where she was a member of Alpha Beta Sigma. Iris worked as a secretary for Mitchell Distributing Company for 10 years after college.

Throughout her life, Iris nurtured all of those around her with her gentle, loving nature, generous spirit her Christian heart. As a lifelong member of the Altapass Baptist Church, Iris served as secretary-treasurer to the church for 55-plus years. She also taught Sunday School, was a member of the W.M.U. and served on the NC Baptist Convention Board for two years. In the 1960s, Iris was active in the Blind Ministry, handing out Bibles on tape to the area’s blind population. It was both her passion and job to serve the Lord in every way possible.

In 1976, Iris had a dream about the “Power of a Single Penny.” Since that day, she saved all of her pennies and prayed over each one to multiply. Soon afterward, her friends and family heard of her penny fund and gave her all of their pennies. Iris used this special fund throughout the years to help others in need. This was her personal penny mission.  

Her hobbies included gardening and working in her flowers, capturing family memories through photographs, keeping records, and doting over her two cats, Luke and Leah. She also enjoyed collecting butterfly and angel figurines.  

Iris is survived by her two daughters, Debra Mills, and husband, Buzz, of Encinitas, California, and Jackie Burleson, of Charlotte; her brother, Herbert Garland, of Fairfax, Virginia; her sister-in-law, Agnes Burleson, of Spruce Pine; as well as numerous nieces and nephews, whom she adored. Iris had three special caregivers, Mike Collis, Amy Street and Grace Meyerhoffer, who all took loving care of her and are considered part of her beloved family.

Private Graveside services for the family of Iris Burleson were Friday, May 8, 2020, with Dr. Marcus Benfield officiating.

The family is grateful for the care and compassion Hospice and Palliative Care of the Blue Ridge provided to both Iris and her family. Instead of flowers, those wishing to honor the memory of Iris are asked to do so by donating to this wonderful organization at Hospice and Palliative Care of the Blue Ridge, 236 Hospital Drive, Spruce Pine, NC  28777.

Words of comfort may be emailed to the family by going to, selecting Iris Burleson’s name and signing her guestbook. Webb Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Burleson family. Mrs. Burleson’s obituary has also been posted on Facebook.

Mitchell News-Journal • May 13, 2020