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Memorial-Irvin, William Leland
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William Leland Irvin
April 12, 1892 – October 23, 1976 

JUDGE SHURE: Mr. Preston.

MR. PRESTON: If it please the Court, I would now like to introduce Mr. James W. Hane from the Montgomery County Bar who will speak on behalf of Mr. William L. Irvin.


MR. HANE: May it please the members of the Court, William Leland Irvin, born April 12, 1892, died on October 23, 1976. When the committee asked me to deliver this eulogy, my first remembrance and my first thought of Mr. Irvin was the many times I looked out of my office window and could see a tall, lanky man come out of his office with a battered brief case, and I naturally thought of Abraham Lincoln.

Strangely enough, Mr. Irvin was born in Rankin, Illinois on April 23, 1892. He attended the Reily School, a small country school where he secured his elementary education. Following that he attended the Grand Prairie Seminary in Onarga, Illinois. Finishing his education there, he entered the Northwestern University, but his early college work was interrupted by his being called to military service. Of course, this was during World War I. The Armistice was declared almost immediate following his commission as a First Lieutenant. One of Mr. Irvin’s favorite stories was the Kaiser quit because he knew he was coming.

Mr. Irvin returned to Northwestern University and was graduated magna cum laude in 1920 with a degree in economics. While at Northwestern University, Mr. Irvin was also elected to Phil Beta Kappa.

Having his bachelor’s degree he then matriculated at the Harvard University Law School where he graduated in 1923. He then settled in Nebraska where he practiced law from 1923 until 1929. Incidentally, the battered brief case was the same one that Mr. Irvin bought in 1923 when he entered practice of law in Nebraska.

During this period, Mr. Irvin and his family came to Washington as he was appointed Clerk to the Senate Judiciary Committee under the late George W. Norris of Nebraska. I might add at that time the Senate did not function year round as they do now, and Mr. Irvin was able to return to Nebraska to continue his law practice.

In 1929 Mr. Irvin terminated his service with the Senate Judiciary Committee and joined the legal staff of the General Accounting Office from which he retired in 1972.

Many of you I am sure, are familiar with the Epworth Methodist Church on Route 355 in Gaithersburg. Mr. Irvin was Chairman of the Building Committee, and I have heard repeatedly that without Mr. Irvin’s interest and tenacity, it is doubtful that the church would have been built. It is indeed a fine tribute to a man when the members of his community refer to the Epworth Church as the church that William L. Irvin built.

In all of my dealings with Mr. Irvin, I found him to be in every sense of the word a gentleman. He was pleasant to deal with and always mindful of not only his client’s rights, but also the obligations of his client in the resolution of a matter. I always remember Mr. Irvin calling and saying, “Good morning, Mr. James, may I come over and discuss such and such a case?” He was always a man who talked to you and not down to you; a man who respected your thoughts and recommendations, and if he disagreed with you, which was often the case, he put forth the effort to explain the position he was taking.

Mr. Irvin left surviving him his widow, Bertha Ells Irvin, a daughter, Mrs. Bertin Price of Huntington, Indiana, and a son, Donald L. Irvin of Leesburg, Virginia, who is an electronics engineer.

With Mr. Irvin’s death at the age of 84, I lost a personal friend and the members of the Bar los a fine and competent attorney.

JUDGE SHURE: Thank you, Mr. Hane. 

It was not my pleasure to know Mr. Irvin well until late in life. However, I did become better acquainted with him in those few years after he retired from the government. 

My association was pleasant, and as Mr. Hane has stated, he was extremely conscientious and interested in the legal profession.

It was interesting for me to note that Mr. Irvin had worked with the General Accounting Office back in 1929. I knew him briefly then as I was a law clerk in that office in ’35 and ’36 while I was attending night school at Georgetown University, but I did not know him well until he came back into this area in the twilight of his career.

He was indeed above average in intelligence as you can garner from the fact that he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and his entire career indicated that he was a religious man, was interested in the community. He was humble, and he was a great credit to this profession. This type of personality is always badly missed.



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