January 28, 2021

Iris Stanford worked in the Classified section department for the Sentinel for over two decades and over that time, she became the heart of a community. She also served as the Classifieds Specialist for the L.A. Watts Times Newspaper for almost a decade. Anyone who did business, whether it was a DBA, an ad, or renting a room—you went to Iris.  In many ways, she was the mother of the Sentinel & LAWT office, checking you when needed, loving on you always and laughing with you all the time.

Unfortunately, we lost Iris to complications from COVID-19 on January 3, leaving many heartbroken family members and friends.

On Saturday, January 23, the children of Iris Marie Stanford held a drive-by outdoor, memorial at the LA Sentinel.   Family, friends, colleagues, and over 40 people on zoom gathered outside the Sentinel. The memorial was opened with a prayer by pastor and cousin, Kasey Whitney.  The spirit-filled event filled with purpled included speeches from her children, Kyara, Tanya, and Wellington, Jr., who spoke about their experiences and lessons bestowed upon them by their mother.  Also, the other spoke gave testimonies on their experiences with Iris.  As the event summed up the memorial, the assembly of attendees released 66 purple balloons in Iris's honor, on Crenshaw Blvd., as the DJ played Gladys Night’s “I Hope You Dance.”   

Here are some words from her family and those who have worked with her over the years.

My Mother was built on LOVE. My foundation was built off caring for others and having a positive attitude with anything you do. Our mother was our biggest fan; always happy for the smallest things we did and so proud of us. Mom, we were just if not prouder of you. You never let us down and you always held us; you stayed strong when your mother transitioned, and you showed us the essence of a Black Women. Life will be hard without you but all that you instilled in us will make it easier than we think. P.S. Lil’ Wells is getting those kisses all over his peachy face every morning, and I will celebrate every time just for you.

Son, Wellington L. Stanford, Jr.


Our Mothers favorite color is purple. Purple is often associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, power and ambition. Purple also represents meanings of wealth, extravagance, creativity, wisdom, devotion, peace, pride, independence and magic. Our mother was all of those things and so much more. Different walks of life came to honor our mother while walking down the purple train of photographic memories. Over 45 family members and friends on a zoom call were able to capture the memorial from their homes while sharing and exchanging stories, which I thought was so breathtaking. Our Mother, grandmother, and adopted mother to some, reached and touched so many lives! We her children, grandchildren, family and friends wanted to do the same.

Daughter, Kyara L. Stanford


Trying to figure out how we would honor your presence on this earth was a little nerve racking since our family is huge, and we don’t play that you can come but you have to stay home guess list thing. We wanted to be safe and we wanted everyone else to be safe as well, because you taught us to not only take care of ourselves, yet take care of others too. We gathered photos that would somehow give everyone a snapshot of the LOVE-filled caring life you lead. People could drive by see and feel the love you left on this earth. Despite threatening storms, the sun shined bright, and the memorial turned out to be an amazing tribute to your life. We choose to take you back to the place that brought you so much joy for most of your life, the Los Angeles Sentinel.  We cannot mention you without the paper because the paper was a part of you. The releasing of 66 balloons in your honor was the most beautiful moment for me. Your spirit reigns supreme in that building and you, MOM, will forever be MISSED and NEVER FORGOTTEN. -

Daughter, Tanya L. Payne


To my mother-in-law, aka my mom, I want to thank you for being a great nana and mother, for you were wise words and your straight-forward advice on life.  Also, for accepting me and my son, Lil Leonard, over 13 years ago.  I remember your famous words that I will never forget, and when I first came over to your house on Town Ave., and I meet you and Tanya’s kids.  You came in the house from work and your first words to me were, ‘are you ready for this; do you think you can handle being a dad to her kids and be a good man to her?  I said yes, proudly, and I just hope I can keep making you proud by keeping my word and being a good man to your daughter, and a good father to your grandkids. I love you mom and i wish you and your smile was still here with us all. The world lost a great spirit of a person.

Son-in-law, Leonard Payne


Nana was always radiating with joy. She always listened to Barry White and when we were around her, we felt nothing but happy vibes. Whenever we needed a hug, she would always be there to give us the best hugs. We love you always and forever, NaNa.

Grandchildren, Sion, Charles, Judah, Journey, Lil’ Leonard, Daniel, and Lil’ Wellington

She was my wife, my friend, and the mother of my children. We always prayed together. I was able to come back down from my hometown (Belize) to be here for my children and grandchildren. It's going to be a void because she was such a special person, but this is a time not to be sad but to celebrate her life.    

Father of children, Wellington Stanford, Sr.


“Iris was a wonderful and loyal employee for the Sentinel long before I purchased the newspaper.  She has been dedicated not only to the Sentinel but also to our community always wanting a better quality of life for everyone.   I was so sad to hear of her passing but I am glad she had the opportunity to spend her retired years with her children and her grandchildren, who she loved so very dearly.  On behalf of all of our Sentinel family, and all those who’ve come into contact with Iris over the years, please know you are missed and you are loved.”

Danny Bakewell Sr., CEO - Executive Publisher L.A. Sentinel & Founder - Chairman of the Bakewell Company.



“Iris will always be cherished and considered a legend at the Sentinel. Her work ethic and commitment to community and family set the tone in the office for so many years. I am honored to have worked alongside her and experienced her beautiful spirit.”

Brandon I. Brooks, LA Sentinel Managing Editor


“Iris was such a ray of sunshine—full of life.  She knew how to make the best of any situation.  I admired how she loved her family and life in general.  She will be greatly missed, especially her positive loving disposition. Rest in Peace Iris Laurent!!!”

Tracy Mitchell, President Mothers In Action


“Iris was a mother figure to me during my time at the Sentinel. She always gave the best advice about friends and ‘no good men.’ We had many great moments talking in the early morning before my shift. I will never forget the impact she had on me as a young woman navigating my way through life.”

Kimberlee Buck-Hayes, L.A. Sentinel Staff Writer. 


“Iris was a joy to be around, she would always bring an abundance of positivity into the Sentinel office day-after-day. I got to know her because she would talk to me during my lunch breaks. Iris was so fun-loving and ready to get involved in the Taste of Videos the staff would make and the cook-offs we did at Christmas time. She was so supportive and welcoming; Iris was ready to party.”

Amanda Scurlock, L.A. Sentinel Sports Writer


“There are so many good things to say about Iris! I have been knowing Iris for over 35 years, since the Sentinel was on 43rd and Central. We became family; she made sure her kids called me uncle. I made sure my daughter called her auntie. Once my wife met her, she loved Iris too. This is really a sad moment in our lives. God lent us an angel.  Her memorial was meaningful and the turnout of people who came to honor her life was great to experience! Iris, you truly will be missed but never forgotten. We will see you again. Love Always.

Thomas Dorsey, L.A. Sentinel Distribution & Facilities Manager


“The only thing that comes to mind about Iris is that she is a legend.  She's my she-ro.”

Alan Braxton, L.A. Sentinel Copy Editor


“Iris was always there to listen and give advice. She was a friend and I loved her. What can I say?”

Jennifer Bihm, L.A. Sentinel Staff Writer


“You won’t get many chances to meet someone who is genuine, kind and loving, so take advantage of knowing someone like that. I did with Iris and it only added to my life. I’m so blessed to have worked with her and called her friend. Until we meet again on that wonderful day, rest in peace Iris.”

Brian W. Carter, L.A. Sentinel Staff Writer


“There is so much to say about Iris. The life she possessed, the presence she provided and the energy that filled the room when she was in it, brought so much warmth and comfort. She felt like family away from home. There was always some type of wisdom that Iris provided over the 6 years we worked together. I’d have some type of life happening going on, sometimes I wouldn’t even speak out loud what I was thinking and Iris somehow still always had something calming to say. Iris was a fighter. When I first began working at the L.A. Sentinel, I’d heard about her battle with breast cancer and I remember thinking how did this smiley and sweet woman go through so much and have such a lighthearted view of life? I think that was the point. Iris wasn’t going to let any temporary situation or hardship bring her down. She had way too much life to enjoy; she truly was the life of the party. I remember a lot of our conversations, she would talk about her children and grandchildren, always pulling up a video of her grandkids dancing. It always warmed my heart to see how much she loved them all. Iris, thank you for all of the advice you gave me. You watched me grow up in my 20s at the office and you were always sweet to me, especially when I needed it the most. There were some really rough days and Iris’ sweet presence just made the day feel lighter. I will honor Iris by doing the same in my life – keeping everything lighthearted. Rest in heavenly peace angel.”

Nicole Williams Assistant to the COO


“Iris had such a beautiful, positive spirit that always improved my day whenever I encountered her. She definitely left an indelible mark on all who knew her and a wonderful legacy we will always remember.”

Cora Jackson Fossett, LA Sentinel Staff Writer


“Iris … we laughed together, talked about our personal live together, entertainment (she loved going to concerts) and was like a mother.  Iris was an exceptional lady and fun to be around! Partied like a Rock Star!  I will truly miss Mrs. Iris…R.I.H. my Dear!

Clifford Russell, L.A. Sentinel Sales Executive


“Iris, Kennedy and I will always remember your kind words.  You were always excitement for him. That smile and your zest for life will stay with us forever.  Rest well, Iris, and say ‘hi’ to my mom for me.”

Tamela Mitchell, Executive Assistant to the Chairman / CEO


“Iris and I spoke every Sunday; I will miss those conversations.  Iris, I love and miss you.”

Angela Howard, L.A. Sentinel Family Editor & Graphic Designer


“When I think of Iris, I recall her kindness, her smile and her wonderful personality. She was certainly one of the nicest persons I had ever met, and I’m glad to have known her. My sincere condolences and prayers are with her family.”

Sam Richard


“Iris, I will always remember the fun times we had in the Sentinel office. I would bring my computer in your office just so we could sit there and talk about nothing.  So many hysterical moments to mention, but watching you dance in the hallway and learning from your work ethic and memories I will forever cherish.  I brought you two Iris plants because you loved them so. I will forever be grateful for taking photos of you. You always demanded I shoot your good side. Lol You never let life get you down. Your retirement party was epic. I will never forget your ‘Hey, Bae!’ I love you, Iris.”

E. Mesiyah McGinnis


“Every time I came into the Sentinel, she always greeted me with respect and a smile on her face. We became lunch buddies.  On my way to the Sentinel on Fridays, I would call her to ask what she wanted for lunch. Me, Clifford and her would order lunch, he would pay and I would go and pick it up, sometimes, I would just treat her just because. We worked the Taste of Soul; I was able to share somethings about my life. She always said ‘God got you girl, don't worry.’ You are truly missed, my Iris, my friend, co-worker and lunch buddy."

Karen Johnson


Iris was the first person to greet me with a big smile after our family bought the Sentinel and I was sent to figure things out (smile).  I will always remember Iris to be helpful, thoughtful, caring, and nurturing to me, everyone on staff, and to every customer who walked into our office.  Iris was loved by her community.  She has left an indelible impression on my heart.  Thank you, Iris, for being who you were and will always be – a loving person.  

Pamela Bakewell, Executive Vice President & COO, The Bakewell Company

Iris Sanford was a proud mother, grandmother and a wonderful friend and colleague to so many. She will be dearly missed.

Rest in Peace, Iris.

Category: Community