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Iris White (1929 – 2009) – a One-Woman United Nations

Iris White  thousands of friends

Iris White – thousands of friends

Local language teacher and authoress, Iris White died in May this year (2009). Iris Pamela Coussens was born 2nd February 1929. Her father was a plumber/painter. Iris, who lived in Amherst Road, died of a heart attack on Monday 25th May 2009 at the Conquest Hospital.

Her son, Dave White, said: “She carried the gene for chronic heart disease, as all our family do.” In 1948, Iris married George Edward White, who survives her. She only used the name ‘Coussens-White’ when she published her wartime novel [see below].

Iris was devoted to her husband and her three children: David, the eldest, Laurence, and Elizabeth the youngest. She also had four grandchildren (identical twins Janet and Claire, Charlotte and Tamsin) and three great-grandchildren (Jessie, Andrea and Taylor).

Dave: “Long-time family friend Bob Javoski became like an adopted brother in our family.” Iris’s son Laurence died, aged 16, in 1970, in a motorbike accident, from brain damage.

Dave: “It was the year when the wearing of crash helmets had been made compulsory and Laurence actually had one – but he wasn’t wearing it – it was strapped to the back of his bike”. It was shortly after this tragic accident that Iris turned to teaching English to foreign students.

Dave: “She never travelled, because of her fears about balance; but she made thousands of friends from the language school including students  throughout the world: Germans, Russians, Americans, Portuguese. She was a one-woman United Nations. She was trained in nursing and was an enthusiastic dancer. She worked at the ITS language school running its language lab until she retired – on her 75th birthday. Not many people knew that my mum was profoundly deaf and used two hearing aids, worn behind her ears and covered by her hair”.

The funeral was on Monday 8 June at Hastings Crematorium.

[Our grateful thanks to David White, Brian Hughes and Stewart Buchan for their kind help in preparing this obituary].

Treasured family picture of Iris, aged 16, in 1945

Treasured family picture of Iris, aged 16, in 1945










James Humphries writes (Sep 2013)

Dear Sir,

Just reading the Voice: I remember Iris White very well from when I started teaching at ITS. She was the resources woman and sat all day checking books and tapes, helping students and such, and to this day, it still says ‘see Iris for info’ on some of the books I use regularly.

The language lab has never been the same since. RIP.

James Humphries, Southwater Road.



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