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Iryne Codon Black

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September 3, 1928 - August 19, 2015 Iryne C. Black made her exit on August 19, 2015, at her home in Newport Beach. Born in Los Angeles to Matt and Eva Codon, she attended L.A. public schools, and graduated from Stanford University. After college Iryne was accepted into the U.S. Foreign Service, serving in Germany as Secretary to the Allied Kommandatura. As a young Jewish woman, Iryne's experience in post-war Berlin provided her with great insight into what happens when people turn a blind eye as injustice and bigotry infect a society. Iryne then served as Secretary to the U.S. Ambassador in Korea during the Korean War. She would tell stories of surveying war zones by military airplane and helicopter, with U.S. Ambassador Everett Briggs, and Gov. Adlai Stevenson, who at that time had just lost his 1952 run for President to Dwight Eisenhower. Thereafter, Iryne resumed her schooling, and in 1959 graduated from Stanford Law School, one of only three women in her graduating class. Despite graduating at the top of her class from Stanford, Iryne's gender made it challenging to find work as a lawyer. She was offered jobs as a legal secretary, and was offered a job as a lawyer at a large, prestigious law firm, with the caveat that she wouldn't get an office like her lesser qualified male counterparts, but she would have to sit in the library instead. She ended up being hired by the California Attorney General, and later returned to Washington, working as an attorney for the Peace Corps., Dept. of Labor, and the Smithsonian. Along the way, she married John W. Black, an attorney who served under President Kennedy, and would later be appointed by President Johnson as Director of the United States Travel Service. They had two sons, and later moved to Orange County, where Iryne would be appointed Judge by then Gov. Jerry Brown. She was told she was the first Orange County judge who simultaneously held a more important job, that of being a mother. Iryne retired in 1992 after many years at the Orange County Counsel's office. Iryne loved her family, her friends, travel, literature and classical music. She visited over 100 countries, each continent, and all 50 states. She often accompanied her husband in his travels; John was the first person to visit every one of the (then) 3104 counties in the United States before his death in 1991. Though her life was always interesting, and her experiences unique, the event that she said had the greatest impact on her was one that was shared by thousands. When she was pregnant with her second child, she stood in a huge crowd a short distance from Martin Luther King as he delivered his "I have a Dream" speech. Iryne was most grateful for her loving and devoted family and friends. Survivors include her sisters, Corryne Schuster and Helayne White, her children and step-children, Ian, Tim, John, Cathy, Bridget and Jim Black, and her beloved grandchildren.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Aug. 28 to Aug. 29, 2015
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