Robert (Bob) John Irwin, age 95 of Oroville, died on Thursday, August 6, 2015. He was born February 4, 1920 in Oroville and spent the majority of his life in his hometown.
He was the grandson of Hiram F. “Okanogan” Smith, one of the first American settlers of the Pacific Northwest and a pioneer of the Washington apple industry.
Bob graduated from Oroville High School where he was an active runner in track. He was offered an athletic scholarship to the University of Washington and intended to pursue a career in law, but the attack on Pearl Harbor altered his plans. Instead, he enlisted in the United States Army.
He was stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas where he met and married Mary Helen Ethridge. Their first daughter, Mary Ella, was born in Marlin, Texas in July 1944. Bob spent the final year of World War II in Europe and was a part of the division that took the Ludendorff railroad bridge in Remagen, the last bridge left intact over the Rhine River. This assault was considered instrumental in ending the war with Germany. After the war, the young family settled in Oroville. Bob and Mary Helen’s second daughter, Patricia Francis, was born in September 1949. Bob and Mary Helen were married for 30 years.
Bob began working for the United States Postal Service in 1945. He worked at post offices in both Oroville and Nespelem before accepting a term in Spokane during the city’s hosting of the 1974 World’s Fair. He often described the World’s Fair as the highlight of his career. Bob was married for a second time in 1974 to Geneva Ogden. He was named the postmaster in Priest River, Idaho and remained there until his retirement in 1985.
Bob returned to Oroville after retirement and spent his later years living on the family apple orchard. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and camping. He was a well-known member of the community and was considered a friend by many. He could often be found enjoying the company of his friends and will always be remembered for his sense of humor and his numerous and enjoyable stories.
Surviving relatives include daughters, Mary Bartels of Newport, Ore. and Patricia Rouillier of Phoenix, Ariz.; grandson, Robert B. Howe of Boise, Idaho; granddaughter, Jennifer Locklear of Newport, Ore.; sister Betty Landreth of Reardon, Wash.; his wife Geneva Irwin and her daughter Patty Garner and grandson John. He also has three great grandsons, Justin, Grayson and Cameron and one great granddaughter, Abby.
Funeral Services will be held on Friday, August 14, 2015 at 11 a.m. at the Oroville Riverview Cemetery with Father Jose Maldonado and the Oroville American Legion, officiating.
Bergh Funeral Service of Oroville/Tonasket in care of arrangements.