Carmen Iris Castro
Carmen Iris Castro
  • March 22, 1946 - June 22, 2017
  • East Elmhurst, New York

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Carmen Iris Castro was born on March 22, 1946 in Guayama, Puerto Rico to Natalio Ortiz-Santiago & Dominga Martinez-Colon. She was the sixth of eleven children.

Iris, as she was affectionately known, was educated in public schools in her native Guayama and was an 'A' student and her dream was to be a early childhood education teacher. However, life in Puerto Rico was changing in the 1960's. Asuncion Bade; Iris's paternal aunt; sponsored nieces and nephews to come live with her in Brooklyn, New York to find work and establish a new life.
Her very first job in NYC was working in a doll factory. She loved the fact that she could play with dolls every day and still get paid for it.

She met Carlos Castro, the love of her life, shortly after 1969. As it happens in many Caribbean families, the elders always connected with each other from 'home'. Iris's aunt and uncle had a chance meeting with Carlos's mother and step-father up in 'Las Villas' aka the Puerto Rican Alps, aka the Catskills. Both families saw an opportunity to join together by uniting Carlos and Iris.

They courted for three years and were happily married in1972 and moved to Jackson Heights, Queens. Iris continued work at the doll factory and while Carlos worked two jobs to build towards their dream of owning their own.

In 1973, Carlos and Iris welcomed the joy of their life, Arlene. Iris became a full-time mother during Arlene's formative years and did not return to work until it was time for Arlene to go to school. Iris loved to spend time with the youngsters in the park, surrounded by the beautiful flowers and trees. Her love of nature could be seen in her garden and at home with her "green thumb". Another skill that she shared was her love of baking - cakes, cupcakes, muffins - everything was made from scratch and delicious.

Iris went back to work after a chance meeting in the park with the wife of the owner of the Sheraton LaGuardia Hotel. She was offered a job on the spot. Iris started in the housekeeping department when she and Carlos had just purchased their dream home in East Elmhurst. Rising through the ranks for over 38 years, Iris was a proud and active member of Local 6 Hotel Trades Union.

Iris maintained an active spiritual life attending mass every Saturday at Our Lady of Fatima in Jackson Heights and was a firm believer in God's word and blessings. She was actively involved with the Charismatic Prayer Group in the Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Corona, Queens for much of her adult life.

The love Iris had for the Lord, she also had for her family. Nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, neighbors, friends - all will say Iris loved them the best. That was her way - love all equally.

Iris leaves to mourn her beloved husband Carlos; daughter Arlene; brothers Natalio Ortiz-Martinez; Hector Lewis Ortiz- Martinez; sister Tomasa Ortiz - Cruz and a host of beloved nieces, nephews, godchildren, neighbors and friends.

"From your loving heart and life-giving powers, grant peace to my soul, restoring me to wholeness and vitality once more. In gratitude. Amen"