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FREDERICK IRVING


1921 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
FREDERICK IRVING Obituary
IRVING, Frederick 1921 - 2016 WWII POW U.S. Ambassador Frederick Irving of Amherst, MA, 95, died peacefully surrounded by family on November 13, 2016. In his 30 year public service career, as in all his endeavors, Fred lived his deep personal commitment to equal opportunity and treatment for all people and to peaceful conflict resolution. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Frederick was the sixth and youngest child of Rebecca Lerner, an immigrant from Bessarabia, Russia and Philip Irving, an immigrant from Romania. After his father's death when Fred was four Rebecca kept the family together by taking in piecework. Fred attended Classical High School while working full time in a soda shop. In 10th grade Fred met the love of his life, Dorothy Petrie, to whom he remained devoted to the end of his days. Fred worked full time while attending Brown University and competing on the fencing team. Fred joined his four older brothers in the US Army Air Corps immediately upon graduation in 1943. His photographic memory led to an assignment as the navigator on a B-24 bomber crew based in Italy. On his 37th mission Fred's plane was shot down over Hungary. He credited the Tuskegee Airmen with saving his life as they circled the plane until the crew could bail out. Fred was captured by Hungarian partisans, turned over to the German Army and interned in Stalag Luft III, the site of the "Great Escape." He was liberated by Patton's Army – two of his brothers among them – in May 1945 and received several military honors, including the Purple Heart, for his bravery. Fred attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University on the GI Bill. There he met his lifelong best friend, Harish Mahindra of India, who served as the best man at his long-delayed marriage to high school sweetheart, Dorothy. Fred joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1951 holding positions in Economic, Political, Scientific and Cultural Affairs in Austria and New Zealand as well as in Washington, D.C. His career was marked by a skilled commitment to building bridges across cultures. He created the People-to-People programs at the State Dept. and arranged the first exchange between Chinese and U.S. athletes known as "Ping Pong" diplomacy. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Iceland and Jamaica. Fred always acknowledged Dorothy's critical role in forging and maintaining personal and professional ties that supported U.S. interests abroad. Upon retiring from the U.S. State Department Fred joined the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He often talked to school groups and civic organizations about his experience as a Prisoner of War, his efforts in the U.S. Foreign Service to promote pragmatic peace and the need for all Americans to ensure that the freedoms, justice and prosperity enjoyed in the United States are equally available to all within and outside its borders. Fred's beloved wife of 64 years predeceased him in 2010. He is survived by his children: Susan Irving and Joseph of Washington, D.C., Rick Irving and Gitte of Winchester, MA, and Barbara Irving and Lindsay of Amherst, MA, 8 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild and innumerable treasured friends and admirers. A Memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on December 17, 2016 at the First Church (UU) in Belmont, MA. Memorial donations may be made to the New England Center for Homeless Veterans in Boston, MA or to the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, AL.

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Published in The Boston Globe on Dec. 10, 2016
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