Cary Frederick Irons was born in 1913 to Cary Frederick and Sallie McDowell (Gibson) Irons. Although he was born in Pickaway, Monroe County, West Virigina, Fred grew up in Rockbridge Baths, Virginia. He earned his BA in 1933 from Washington and Lee University. In the years after his undergraduate degree, Fred taught high school chemistry and biology in Rockbridge County, Virigina and one year at a bank to earn the money to go to medical school. He graduated from the Medical College of Virginia in 1941. In his first year, he met his future wife, Malene Grant, over a cadaver. They were married in 1939 at the Jarvis Memorial United Methodist Church where her father was a minister. After graduating with his MD, he served in World War II as medical officer for the 56th General Hospital European Theater of Operation and then transferred to the 5th Armored Division. When he returned to the United States in 1945, he had earned the rank of major. The Irons moved to Greenville in November 1945, where they opened an office at their home. In 1947, he became the physician at East Carolina College and later the director, a position he would hold until his retirement in 1980. During this time, he also served as President of Pitt County Medical Society and Chief of Staff at the Pitt County Memorial Hosptial. From 1983 to 1997, Fred served a clinical professorship at the Family Practice Center, part of the School of Medicine at East Carolina University. He died 8 March 2008 in Greenville, North Carolina.
Malene Elizabeth Grant, and her identitical twin sister Isa Costen Grant, were born 18 April 1915 in Sunbury, North Carolina to Thomas and Malene (Harrell) Grant. Malene, the mother, died 48 hours after the twins birth due to complications. They were raised by their grandparents in their early years. When they were five, their father remarried and the family moved to Wilson. Malene and Isa followed the same educational path, graduating with a BA in 1935 from East Carolina Teaching College, and then earned their medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia in 1941. While Fred served in the military, Malene completed her residency in pediatrics. When they moved to Greenville in 1945, Malene became the first woman physician in Greenville. She specialized in children's diseases. In 1964, she became the Director of the Developmental Evaluation Clinic at East Carolina University. When a new building in 1974 was built to house the new Developmental Evaluation Clinic and the Remedial Education Activity Program, it was named in honor of Malene. Five years later, in 1979, Malene would retire from the Developmental Evaluation Clinic and become a part-time consultant for the School of Medicine at East Carolina University. She died 8 October 2008.
Together, Fred and Malene had three sons: Thomas Grant, Ben Gibson, and Cary Frederick III.