TUPELO – David Herman Irwin Sr. went to be with his Lord and Savior on Thursday, April 10, 2014, at 88 years of age. He was born on Dec. 17, 1925, in the Eggville Community to parents, Leonard and Lillie Mae Love Irwin. He and his four siblings grew up in Saltillo, where their family attended Saltillo Methodist Church. He became a member of the church at age 8. As a child, he loved his family and observed closely the impact the Great Depression had upon their household and good friends. He was a 1942 graduate of Tupelo High School and studied at Wood Junior College and Mississippi State University. He was then accepted to U.S. Navy Flight School. He completed his training to be a Navy pilot and, at the same time, studied at Howard College and the University of Georgia as part of his training. After the war, he taught at Saltillo School from 1946-47, completed his college requirements, and later graduated from Mississippi State University. He became a sales representative for Standard Oil Company, Esso and Metropolitan Life Insurance. Mr. Irwin was a Methodist Lay Speaker and preached for many years at numerous area Methodist churches. He was a member of the Saltillo Masonic Lodge and a member of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. He was also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution.
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He married Billie Dale Easterling on June 25, 1949. Mr. and Mrs. Irwin were blessed with three children. They made their home in the Birmingham Ridge Community. His joys in life were his family and his love for his church. He and Mrs. Irwin were active members of Saltillo First United Methodist Church. He was a faithful member of the Adeline Jones Sunday School Class and the Chancel Choir. He served as Methodist Youth Fellowship leader and as Church Historian. He loved music all his life. Mr. Irwin especially enjoyed retelling his memories of singing his grandmother's favorite hymn for her on her knee when he was a boy. Then, and throughout his life, he attended Springhill Presbyterian Church with his mother's family every year on the first Sunday in June. The days at the small, white church where his family is buried were precious days to him. He loved the afternoon singing, and always led "Rock of Ages" as every service ended. He looked forward to this day every year with great reverence.
Mr. Irwin had an "unquenchable thirst for knowledge." He especially devoted his studies to the Holy Scriptures, history and genealogy. He spent his years researching his family's ancestry, sharing family stories at every occasion in conversation. He was truly a lifelong student and teacher. Mr. Irwin and his closest friends and fellow patriots gathered routinely for lunch at Gurley's Restaurant for many years. They discussed history and politics and especially enjoyed sharing their table with friends and young listeners.
Except for his utmost love for his Lord and Savior, his heart was devoted to his wife, Billie Dale. They enjoyed traveling together, visiting family and spending summer vacations in Mountain View, Ark. He was a remarkable source of comfort and devotion to her during and every day since her illness in 2007.
He was preceded in death by his beloved parents, Leonard and Lillie Mae Love Irwin; grandparents, David and Anna Barber Irwin and Robert and Viola Brooks Love; his older brother, Robert Vernon Irwin; and his nephew, George Gary Barnes Jr.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Billie Dale Easterling Irwin; one brother, William Love Irwin, and two sisters, Ann Irwin Barnes and Sara Irwin Harris; his children, Dr. David H. Irwin Jr. (Jenny), Nancy Carole Long (Bill) and William Wood Irwin (Ruthann); his nine grandchildren, Dr. Jennifer Long Grisham (Josh), William Jason Long (Brook), John Irwin Long, Jordan Elizabeth Irwin Hauser, Catherine Dale Irwin Silva, William Benjamin Irwin, David McMullan Long (Anna), Bonnie Elizabeth Irwin and Samuel Stewart Irwin; and five great-grandchildren, Sara Margaret Grisham, David Brayden Hauser, Sory Kate Long, Jed Fitts and Maly Fitts.
Pallbearers are Ben Irwin, Sam Irwin, Jason Long, John Long, David Long, Josh Grisham, Mike Irwin and John Epting. Honorary pallbearers are The Adeline Jones Sunday school class and all Mr. Irwin's special friends from Gurley's Restaurant.
Visitation will be held at Saltillo First United Methodist Church, Saturday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. A service of worship and remembrance will be held at Saltillo First United Methodist Church on Sunday, April 13, at 3 p.m. with the Rev. Tim Green officiating. The family will receive visitors in the sanctuary beginning at 1:30 p.m. Graveside service and burial will follow at Springhill Presbyterian Cemetery.
Expressions of sympathy may be given as flower memorials or memorials to the Springhill Cemetery Fund (attention: David Irwin or Malcolm McMullan) or to Saltillo First United Methodist Church.
Published in Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on Apr. 12, 2014