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EDWARD SUTER IRWIN M.D.

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EDWARD SUTER IRWIN, M.D. - BURLINGTON - Edward Suter Irwin, M.D., 94, passed away on Feb. 7, 2013, in the company of his family, at the Converse Home in Burlington after a long journey with Alzheimer's disease. Edward was born in Burlington on Aug. 2, 1918, the son of Gladys Suter Irwin (originally of Swanton) and Lewis Gardner Irwin (a Burlington native). He graduated from Burlington High School in 1936 and the University of Vermont in 1940 with a Bachelor's degree in Botany. He earned a Master's in Botany from UVM in 1941. In the 1930s he was a member of the VT National Guard. Following graduation from UVM, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the US Army. He stayed on at UVM to teach Military Science and Tactics (ROTC) during World War II. It was at the Military Department that he met his wife, Beatrice Virginia "Ginny" Norris (from St. Albans), whom he married on May 30, 1943. He also taught high school ROTC in New Bedford, Mass., and during 1945 was stationed in Alaska on Shemya, one of the Aleutian Islands. On return from the Army, he earned a Doctor of Optometry degree from Pennsylvania College of Optometry in Philadelphia. In 1950 he entered practice with his father-in-law, Francis W. Norris, M.D., of St. Albans. In 1951 he entered the UVM College of Medicine, earning an M.D. Degree in 1955. While in medical school, he was the Company Commander of a US Army Reserve Military Police Company based in St. Albans. After graduation, he served an internship at the Glens Falls, N.Y. Hospital and Ophthalmology Residency at the Strong Memorial Hospital of the University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y. In 1958 he returned to the private practice of Ophthalmology in Burlington, where he worked with his devoted wife of 63 years, who was his office manager for his entire medical career. He was a member of the faculty of the UVM College of Medicine, reaching the rank of Clinical Professor, and was acting Chief of the Division of Ophthalmology from 1972 to 1977. He was an Attending Surgeon at both the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont and Fanny Allen Hospital. He was active in the UVM College of Medicine Alumni Association, serving as the Association's President from 1972 to 1974. Except for times living away from Burlington, he was a lifelong member of the First United Methodist Church of Burlington. He was a percussionist in the Burlington High School Band, the UVM Band, Burlington Concert Band, and the St. Andrews Society Bagpipes and Drums. An avid rail fan, he was a founding member of the Champlain Valley Chapter, National Railway Historical Society. He enjoyed traveling with his wife, Virginia, and especially enjoyed visiting their many relatives in the British Isles and Switzerland. An enthusiastic gardener, he specialized in raising tea roses and dahlias, and for many years entered award-winning blooms in the Champlain Valley Fair. He was a volunteer driver for Meals-on-Wheels for several years. He spent many happy summers at his camp at Spaldings West Shore in Colchester, where he treasured simple, joyful times with his family, friends and neighbors. He will be remembered for his charming smile, his kindly manner, strong handshake and the special way he had of making everyone feel welcome and loved when they were with him. He was predeceased by his wife in Dec. 2004; his only child, Alan Emory Irwin, M.D., in April 2012; and by his sister, Charlotte Bertha Irwin. He is survived by his daughter-in-law, Joanne Hilbert Irwin of Essex. He is also survived by his three grandchildren and their families: Bonnie Irwin Royal and her husband, Paul Worden Royal, of Exeter, N.H., and their children, Andrew Suter Ward Royal and Samuel Cooper Royal of Exeter, N.H; Brian Hilbert Irwin, M.D., and his wife, Jeanne Hayden Irwin, and their children, Fisher James Irwin and Gwenyth Hayden Irwin of Shelburne; and David Michael Irwin of Huntington and his fiancee, Dawn Williams. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Lily Thorpe of Venice, Fla.; a niece, Karen and her husband, Robert Gelakoski, of St. Petersburg, Fla.; a cousin, Emil Gertsch and his wife, Karin, of Essex, Mass.; and several other cousins. The family would like to express its profound gratitude to the staff at the Converse Home for the competent and loving care that they gave him during the more than five years that he lived there. They encouraged him to stay as independent as possible for as long as possible, always treated him with dignity and as they would wish one of their own family to be treated. A Celebration of His Life will be held at the First United Methodist Church, 21 Buell St., Burlington at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the UVM College of Medicine, Development and Alumni Relations, Courtyard at Given, South, 89 Beaumont Ave., Burlington VT 05405; or the , P.O. Box 96011, Washington, DC 20090-6011.

Published in The Burlington Free Press on Feb. 12, 2013
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