In an instant one September evening, Palo Pinto County received a jolt when long-time county employee Iris Stagner – an avid, experienced cyclist – was killed by a motorist.
Stagner was just a few miles into a training ride Monday evening when hit from behind by the driver of a pick up truck while crossing the Brazos River bridge on U.S. Highway 180, just west of Mineral Wells.
It didn’t seem like an ending to a story anyone expected – that a beloved woman with such an impact on cycling, fitness and people’s well being – would be killed in the prime of her life. For many, her death resembled a sort of twisted irony, that an advocate of the “Share the Road” campaign, who almost singlehandedly brought caution signs to Palo Pinto County roadways, and someone who rallied hard for the failed “Safe Passing” bill in 2009 was killed while riding her bicycle.
Just months from retiring, Stagner had served almost 23 years as the administrative assistant for the four Palo Pinto County commissioners.
She always flashed a smile when asked about retirement or her plans, for it seemed like she was getting ready to take on the world with zest and gusto.
At her funeral service, her daughter, Felicia Scott, spoke about Stagner’s vitality heading into retirement, pointing out that her 54-year-old mother was looking forward to running in the 2013 Boston Marathon, for which she had just qualified.
Scott spoke of how her mother, who “didn’t break a sweat before she was 40,” lived her life to the fullest and did her best at what she did and always took on new challenges. She was well known throughout the state as a racing cyclist and had started running in recent years. She was a member of a cycling team and trained with some of the strongest riders in North Texas.
Stagner didn’t just focus on her own fitness, she coordinated the county’s wellness program and took on other roles in the community to promote fitness. She also served on the board of Bike Texas, a non-profit bicycle advocacy organization that promotes bicycle access, safety and education in Texas. Each May, she coordinated the annual “Ride of Silence” to raise local awareness about cyclists who died or were seriously injured by motorists.