Iris Donaldson, or “Tia,” as she is affectionately, celebrated her 101st birthday in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with family and friends on Jan. 8. Tia was born Jan. 11, 1911, in Port Limon, Costa Rica, the youngest of five born to Jamaican parents who migrated in hopes of a better life for their family.
She worked from a young age as a housekeeper for a high-profile executive for Time magazine, college deans and oil moguls, traveling from Costa Rico to Panama, from Venezuela to Florida, finally settling in Brooklyn in 1960.
Aside from her family, she funded and financed several entrepreneurial family ventures. One notable venture was the first Black character doll, the renowned “Huggy Bean Doll,” manufactured by Golden Ribbon Playthings, which graced the shelves of Toys R Us in the 1980s and paved the way for mainstream ethnic dolls and toys.
Tia, at 101, continues to inspire and nurture her family from her Brooklyn apartment, where she still resides.
“It feels so good to let her know how much we love and appreciate her matriarch love for family, friends and everyone she worked for. We celebrate with unconditional love,” said family members at her birthday celebration.