Carl Irving
1928 - 2019
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Carl Irving

Local bay area journalist Carl Irving passed away peacefully in his sleep on September 21, 2019 at the age of 91. He spent his final hours surrounded by family at his bedside.
Carl was born Carl Hans Israel February 19, 1928 in San Francisco to Ida Probst Israel (Catholic) and Hans Israel (Jewish), immigrants from the Southern German province of Bavaria.
At age four, Carl and his family moved to Burlingame, where he attended Catholic grammar school. In light of rising global anti-semitism, Carl's mother advocated for her son's name to be changed. Carl's father reluctantly agreed, and in 1939, at age 10, Carl's surname was changed to Irving.
Carl attended Burlingame High School where he wrote for the school paper and played basketball. Upon graduation, he enrolled at Stanford University where he graduated in 1951 with a degree in journalism. After a tour of Europe, he enrolled at UC Berkeley and received an MA in International Relations in 1952. He did his thesis on NATO.
Carl went to work for the Woodland Democrat in California's Central Valley covering local Capay Valley stories. After several years there, he moved to the Sacramento Union where he met the Patricia Paine who was Assistant Women's Editor at the paper and a columnist.
Carl and Pat were married in June 1955 and subsequently moved across the country to Washington DC where Carl took a job with the Washington Evening Star as a dictation clerk. He quickly learned regional accents in order to accurately take notes and was eventually promoted to be a reporter covering the federal courts. After several years, he was offered the opportunity to do year of legal studies at Harvard in preparation for a role covering the US Supreme Court. But Carl was not passionate about legal reporting and longed to return to his beloved California. He declined the opportunity on the spot without even discussing with his wife!
Instead of heading back to California, Carl's path took a detour further east. He accepted a job with Radio Free Europe (RFE) in Munich, Germany where he wrote news reports that were broadcast to audiences behind the Iron Curtain. While in Germany, Carl enjoyed long hikes in the Alps with devoted pet dachshund Timmy and connecting with the culture of his immigrant parents. In August 1961, Pat gave birth to daughter Suzanne.
In October 1962, Carl left RFE and the family set sail back to America. During their voyage across the Atlantic from Genoa to New York City, the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted and the ship nearly had to turn back due to reports of Soviet ships on the high seas.
Upon arrival in NYC, the Irving family drove across the country to Menlo Park, CA where they were reunited with extended family. The Irvings settled in Berkeley and Carl went to work for the Oakland Tribune. During his time there he was assigned to cover higher education, including UC Berkeley. In 1964, he made an inquiry to the UC administration regarding the legal status of a small strip of property at the corner of Bancroft and Telegraph Avenues where students manned tables advocating on political issues. The answer to that question (that the property actually belonged to the University, not the City of Berkeley) and the article that Carl wrote, eventually sparked the famed free speech movement (see University of California Crises: Loyalty Oath and Free Speech Movement, Interview with Clark Kerr by Amelia Fry; also Teaching About the Berkeley Free Speech Movement: Civil Disobedience and Mass Protest in the 1960's by Robert Cohen in the Nov/Dec issue 2015 issue of Social Education). In August 1965, son Daniel was born.
In the late 60's, Carl went to work for the public relations department for the UC system. He missed reporting, however, and joined the San Francisco Examiner in 1970, where he worked until retirement in 1993. During his career at the Examiner, Carl covered multiple presidential campaigns, environmental issues, and higher education. Highlights included an article regarding the exploitation of old growth redwood forests in northwestern California by timber companies, which helped to enable the expansion of Redwood National Park ("Redwood Companies Stir Up Hornet's Nest", San Francisco Examiner, March 1977).
Carl's passions were hiking, travel, and the opera. After retirement, Carl and Pat traveled extensively to Europe, Asia, and South America. Carl had many hiking adventures overseas including in Nepal and Switzerland, and was an active trekker until the creeping effects of Alzheimer's-related dementia forced him to stop in his late 80's.
Carl is survived by his wife Pat, daughter Suzanne and husband Richard Farrell, son Dan and wife Carolyn, and grandchildren Katherine Irving, Ben Irving, and Celia Farrell.

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Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Sep. 30 to Oct. 1, 2019.
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February 11, 2020
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