A supportive spouse

Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2004

George M. Irwin was born in Dayton, Ohio, according to his profile in the third volume of Ed Ferrell's valuable dictionary of Alaska-Yukon pioneers. (A birth date could not be located, but Irwin seems to have been somewhat older than his wife.) He attended Ohio Wesleyan University at Delaware for several years.

About 1880, he moved to Walla Walla, Wash. Later he moved to Oregon as pastor of the Methodist churches at Union and LaGrande.

In 1894, George Irwin was appointed superintendent of public instruction for the State of Oregon. When his wife completed post- graduate study in the East, he accompanied her. When the couple returned to the West Coast, Irwin was appointed United States Commissioner of Instruction at Douglas, Alaska, where he remained until 1906. During his tenure in Alaska, he was sent by Gov. John Brady to represent the Territory at the 1904 Exposition in St. Louis. He delivered the official oration on Alaska at this world's fair, which was at the time considered the most beautiful, educational and exciting of all the international exhibitions of global culture ever presented. He retired from Alaska service in 1906, and moved to the Seattle area to take charge of the Riverton and Thomas churches. He preached his final Sunday sermons in those pulpits, dying just a few days later on August 24, 1911. He was buried in Oregon.

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