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Celebrating Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel (August 29, 1921 – March 1, 2024) was an inspiration and role model with the most vivacious, distinctive, and glamorous spirit. To me, she was an absolute delight expressing vibrancy and empowerment each day, each age. What a joy! expressing truly living every single day with intent and freedom to express.


We have a duality in life, fear or freedom (perhaps love), and all the myriad in between. Iris Apfel was a true north and inspiration reflecting exuberance and LIVING until the last days.

"Spirited, empowering, full of life"


As a woman of 58, many of my cohorts are retiring from careers, and when asked why, I am told: “to finally enjoy life and relax”. This keeps haunting me with both the perception of life and the word retirement. The antonym of retiring is advancing, as with advancing in a career, advancing in the polls, advancing in a race; which is positively represented. However, that word is not always applied positively, with advancing in age. Advancing in age.


Iris was an incredible example of how advancing in age was spirited, empowering, full of life, and continuing the youthful exuberance until the very last day. Living vs. existing! It is powerful and as a scientist, I know kinetic energy (life) must be moving to create momentum. Iris moved all the days of her life and that lit the whole world, her world, and beyond. The energy she created had a rippling effect on many. Each of us has that spirit within!


Retirement?! Absolutely not. That word was not in her vocabulary however the words ADVANCING IN AGE, well, those were embraced with new meanings; Energy! Life! Momentum! Living! Creating! Exploring! Adventure! Dreams! Now, those meanings I can stand behind. Iris was one of my role models not only for her business acumen, achievements, and creativity but her celebration of life. She was not someone older who was sitting on the couch “to finally enjoy life and relax” No! Iris continued dreaming, exploring, and creating. Retirement did not exist for her. Life is a continuum, it is malleable, and fluid, and not one thing defines any of us.


I want to be like Iris Apfel, one of these older “advancing in age” adults that people remark “What is she up to now?!”


Let us celebrate our lives fully, completely, with unbridled passion and exuberance. Let us not go quietly into that good night. We may live every day with fear however as Georgia O’Keefe noted, it never stopped her, despite.


Thank you, Iris Apfel, for your true reflection of humanity and living! Your spirit continues in everyone you touched and we will continue in our own vivacious and inspirational ways.

Rosa Parks "I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear".

Decide on freedom to live your life fully!


No matter your age, remember your dreams are free to fly! Believe in yourself and if you need a cheerleader, just call me and I’ll cheer to the stars above!


Hafiz, another “advancing in age” adult from the 1300’s, wrote “The sun never says to the earth “you owe me”! Look what happens with a love like that, it lights the entire sky”.


Thank you, Iris.


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