NO. 17973 • 30 December 1926 - 19 July 1983
Died in Minneapolis, MN
Cremated, ashes scattered over the coast of Oregon.
"MOOSE!" THAT'S THE NICKNAME many classmates called John (Jack) Francis Irwin because of his size and love of water. Jack was born on Oahu in what was then the Territory of Hawaii. Not surprisingly, he learned to swim just as soon as he could walk, and learn he did! In 1950, the Moose won first place in the 50‑yard freestyle in the Eastern Intercollegiate Championship held at Annapolis.
His early schooling was in Waipahu, but at about the time of Pearl Harbor he was sent stateside and completed high school in San Luis Obispo, CA. Upon graduation in 1944, he enrolled at Stanford University and studied engineering until enlisting in the Army in 1946. He served until just before entering West Point as a member of the Class of '50. As a cadet, swimming and water polo occupied most of Jack’s time.
So, too, did Margaret, who was to become his wife soon after graduation. Margaret also had been a student at Stanford, and their meeting there in 1944 was a classic example of "love at first sight." Margaret remained at Stanford in 1947 to obtain her degree. Soon thereafter, she moved to Cornwall, NY, to be near Jack.
Commissioned in the Coast Artillery, Jack was ordered to Korea. While en route, his plane experienced engine trouble in Alaska, creating a delay that led ultimately to a changed assignment to Japan. Margaret and their young son joined him there in 1952. Later, Moose switched to Ordnance, and served at Ft. Lawton, Ft. Bliss, and Redstone Arsenal.
As time passed by, the family grew. By 1957, the Irwins counted seven children ‑ five girls and two boys. Deeming it more fitting to raise the family in the civilian sector, Moose left the Army he loved because it did not have "enough hat racks" to accommodate his clan.
For some 20 years, Jack worked for various aerospace companies on the west coast until retiring in 1977. There followed seven carefree years during which Jack and Margaret toured the United States, Mexico, and Canada in their own version of an RV. Jack died suddenly on 19 Jul 1983, in Minneapolis, MN.
Death, unlike so many swimming opponents, conquered Jack at age 56, but not before he gathered up so much in the net of that lifetime ‑ a distinguished military career, an engineering profession in civilian life, a large devoted family, and even some seven years of retirement. His family is gratefuI for the years he devoted to them. We wish he could have lived to be rewarded by the successes of his children, and the joy in knowing his grandchildren.