Obituary of John W. Irwin
John Wigmore Irwin, a Larchmont resident for over 60 years and beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, passed away peacefully on October 2, 2023, at the age of 91, surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife, Virginia, the love of his life for over 66 years; five loving children and their spouses and partners, John Irwin, Michael Irwin and Jenny Schwartz, Charlie and Mary Beth Irwin, Fran and Erin Irwin, and Mary Irwin and Jeff Kwait; 15 adoring grandchildren (each of whom he declared was his “favorite“), Sean, Maddy, Jack, Charlie, Joey, Kieran, Julia, Caroline, Bella, Henry, James, Charlotte, Spencer, Brooke, and Sloane; and one great-grandson, James.
Born on June 20, 1932, during the Great Depression, John was the third of seven children of the late Charles and Loretta Irwin. He was predeceased by his brothers Charles, Joseph, Thomas, and David Irwin. He is survived by his sister Loretta (Wynne) Dumas, brother Billy, sister-in-law Marianne Irwin, sister-in-law Joan McIntee, and many nieces and nephews, all of whom will miss John’s special charm and humor at the family gatherings he so enjoyed.
John “Big D” Irwin was born and raised on Winfield Avenue in Mount Vernon, NY. He graduated from Iona Prep in 1950 and Fordham University in 1954. In the same month that he graduated from Fordham, John was drafted and served three years in the U.S. Army. He was stationed at Fort Jackson, SC and Fort Hood, TX for tank training and finished his service in Fort Knox, KY. When stationed at Fort Hood, John became engaged to Virginia; they married in June 1957 and moved to Fort Knox. John was forever proud of his military service and held fond memories of living at Ft. Knox with Virginia.
After his honorable discharge in 1957, John’s effortless charm contributed to his long and successful career in sales. The Irwin’s garage at 18 Prospect Avenue was where the kids’ friends knew they could stock up on the products he sold: Eagle pencils, Wet Nap wipes, and Everynight shampoos. John was an early proponent of work-life balance. Notwithstanding the responsibilities of a national accounts manager for a number of companies, John attended almost all of his children’s school and sporting events, from elementary school through college. John was also a regular on the sidelines for his grandchildren.
John enjoyed family get-togethers, summers in Old Saybrook, winters in Key Biscayne, watching sports—football and basketball were his favorites—an occasional round of golf, crossword puzzles, and reading nonfiction. He also couldn’t resist sweets, particularly Necco Wafers, Tootsie Rolls and vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.
John was an old-school gentleman, a stylish dresser, and a gracious host. He was quick-witted, loved to sing and, without warning, would often break out in song. He always had a kind word or compliment ready for everyone he encountered. His go-to was “you’ve always been one of my favorite people”—he used that phrase often and almost always meant it. He wanted people to feel good about themselves and so he would frequently tell people they looked terrific.
When asked a couple of years ago what he considered his greatest life accomplishment, John responded it was his children. He loved them deeply and, in word and deed, expressed that love daily. He did the same for Virginia. He cherished being a husband, father, and grandfather; his life was centered on those around him and his faith. He blanketed family and friends with love, kindness, and encouragement, surely a legacy to emulate. He will be forever missed by all who knew him.
A special note of deep gratitude is due to the caretakers who looked after John at home in his last days, especially Michael Okoro and Tracy Wissard, whose patience, kindness, humor (and Jamaican cooking!) under challenging circumstances provided great relief for the Irwin family.
Relatives and friends are invited to a service at Saint Augustine’s Church in Larchmont at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, October 13, to celebrate Big D’s remarkable life.
In lieu of flowers donations to
Dementia Society of America : https://www.dementiasociety.org/donate?gad=1
The Michale J Fox Foundation : https://give.michaeljfox.org/give/489725/?gad=1#!/donation/checkout?c_src=smcidap-a1bHq00000AbW9G
Would be appreciated.