Iris Cofman Anderson

October 3, 1939May 5, 2022
Obituary of Iris Cofman Anderson
Dr. Iris Cofman Anderson, 82, of Yorktown, VA died May 5th, 2022 of ovarian cancer in her daughter’s home in Nahant, MA. Iris was a current tenured professor at the College of William & Mary, Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and served as Dean of Graduate Studies from 2002 to 2010. Born, October 3, 1939, in Lynn, MA, Iris loved performing in school theatre productions and graduated as valedictorian of Lynn Classical High School in 1956 at the age of 16. She earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Colby College in 1960 and went on to pursue graduate work at MIT where she met her future husband, Griffin Anderson as a member of the MIT sailing club. After completing her master’s degree and most of her doctoral work, she left MIT in 1963 to marry Griff and move to Virginia where they raised three daughters Mara, Elana, and Rebecca. She later completed her Ph.D at the Medical College of Virginia in 1981. It is no mistake that two of her daughters bear the initials ERA and RNA! Iris and Griff shared a love of sailing and spent much of their spare time sailing the Chesapeake Bay with their family and friends. Iris was connoisseur of ice cream and always promised to someday write a book about the best ice cream of the Chesapeake Bay. Iris loved reading, cycling, frisbee, and had a mean backhand. She was also an animal lover who was rarely without a cat in her lap. When her sister-in-law and friend, Judy Stark, died tragically at an early age, Iris kept her nephews Michael and Douglas, and niece Wendy very close acting as mentor and confidante. In addition to her family, what Dr. Anderson loved most was her work at VIMS and the many students that she taught and mentored over the years. She joined the VIMS faculty in 1994 and became a tenured William & Mary professor in 2004. Dr. Anderson was a leading expert in the pollution of coastal systems by nitrogen and carbon and the threat it poses to the health of coastal ecosystems and estuaries. Over the last 30 years she mentored more than 15 graduate students, many of whom have gone on to become leading professors at universities including the University of Connecticut, William & Mary, and Virginia Commonwealth University. In 2019 Dr. Anderson was awarded the prestigious Odum Award by the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF). Additionally, Dr. Anderson has been recognized with a number of other honors, including the VIMS Lifetime Achievement Award (2015), a Plumeri Award from William & Mary (2012), and the Dean's Prize for the Advancement of Women in Marine Science (2003). Iris is preceded in death by her husband, Griff, who died in February 2021, and her parents, Jules and Beatrice Cofman. Iris is survived by her sister, Sandra Ectman of Peabody, MA, and her daughters – Mara Anderson of Gainesville, VA; Elana Anderson and her husband, Jesper Kornerup, and their daughters Julia and Hannah of Nahant, MA; and Rebecca Anderson of Reading, MA – and by her nieces and nephews and their children as well as the many colleagues and students who adored her. A Memorial service for Iris will be held on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at 12:00 PM at the Sharon Memorial Park Chapel, 40 Dedham Street, Sharon. Family requests that all guests attending the service will wear masks. Interment for Iris and her husband Griffin will follow at Sharon Memorial Park 40 Dedham Street, Sharon.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Memorial Service

Tuesday, May 17, 2022