Robert K. Irwin, a resident of Breaux Bridge and native of Lafayette, passed away Aug. 16 surrounded by love, in the company of his wife and family. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Breaux Bridge Monday, Aug. 19, 2013 at 1 p.m., where Bob's final "Anchors Aweigh" will be sung. Father Keith Landry, pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church in Henry, La., will officiate the mass and conduct the funeral services. Lectors will be Michelle Wilson and Katherine Nicholson; gift bearers , Margaret Pellerin and Sarah Valdetero. Interment will follow mass in St. Michael Cemetery in Henderson, La.
Born in 1927 into the second marriage of Beatrice Hebert Lanclos and Sam Houston Irwin, Bob was the only child of their union. True, the only child of that union, but welcomed into a larger blended family of seven Irwin and four Lanclos half-brothers and sisters.
Bob, or Mr. Bob, as he was affectionately known to all, was a 26-year veteran of the United States Navy. An underage Bob tried to join up early except Mamma Bea noticed an error on his service papers. “Bobby, your birth date on the form is not correct. You were born in 1927, not 1926.”
Bob served in Guadalcanal, Albuquerque, N.M., Austin, Texas, Jacksonville, Fla., New Orleans and Lafayette as a Yeoman and Chief Petty Officer.
He married Mary Grace Amy of Henderson in 1948 and fathered five children, and his tribe was a military family for the duration of Bob’s service.
Upon Bob’s retirement from the Naval Reserve in 1965, the family moved to Breaux Bridge where they settled on St. Charles Avenue.
Though it took him ten years taking part-time classes at various postings, Bob was graduated from the University of Texas in 1958, but he rose early at 4 a.m. for several years as he studied for the Certified Public Accountant examination, which he earned in 1966. He went on to work as a founding officer of Offshore and Air Logistics in Lafayette.
Bob and Grace volunteered for the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival Association and served on the organization’s board of directors during the 1960s and 70s. Bob headed the Crawfish Festival in 1974 as president and invited Heywood Hale Broun, a broadcast journalist and the Kentucky Derby’s longtime color commentator, to visit Breaux Bridge to call the crawfish races. The ‘74 festival is still remembered as one of the town’s most successful years.
Bob was also responsible for modernizing Amy’s Fisheries, one of the pioneering businesses of the crawfish industry. Under Bob and father-in-law Joe Amy’s direction, Amy’s Fisheries became a model crawfish processing facility and many of their innovations are common practice today. Among the Amy’s Fisheries customers were all locations of Don’s Seafood and Steak House, the Piccadilly Cafeteria chain, Southern Seafood of Lafayette, Herbie K’s and the Upper Bolton Fruit Market (Alexandria), Delerno’s Restaurant, Chez Francais, LeRuth’s Restaurant and Commander’s Palace (New Orleans), LaFourche Fish Market (Baton Rouge), Seaport Seafood (Lake Charles) and Howard’s Supermarket of Port Arthur, Texas.
Bob took time to serve his church and was a lector at St. Bernard Catholic Church for many years until illness rendered him homebound. He also was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and the Knights of Columbus.
A bon vivant, Bob and Grace were members of the Krewe of Zeus and Krewe of Victoria, and supporters of ULL and LSU.
Bob was always the life of the party and loved to tell a joke. Groaners were met with the singing of a loud and raucous verse from the circus tune “Billboard March Melody” - “She wears a gold ring around her nose, and every day it grows and grows”- ending with an abrupt “Bomp” stinger to let everyone know that the family loved life and good times.
But trying times are part of a family and Bob was preceded in death by a half-sister, Gladys (taken as a child in the flu epidemic of 1918), his father Samuel H., mother Beatrice Hebert Lanclos Irwin, his in-laws Mathilde and Joe Amy and beloved grandson Gantt Nicholson, IV.
Bob is survived by Grace, his wife of 64 years, and children, Kathy Irwin Pellerin and spouse Harris “Buddy” Pellerin of Baton Rouge, Cynthia Irwin of Breaux Bridge, Samuel Robert Irwin and spouse Betty Dupont Irwin of Baton Rouge, Susan Irwin Langston and spouse David Langston of Breaux Bridge and Carolyn Irwin Courville and spouse Tony Courville of Breaux Bridge. He is also survived by his half-sister Lois Lanclos Broussard of Lafayette, the last of the extended Irwin-Lanclos clan.
He is also survived by nine grand-children: Jamey Johnson, Amy Jo Nicholson Begnaud, Katie Nicholson, Margaret “Maggie” Pellerin, Simone Elise Irwin, Sarah Nicholson Valdetero, Mary Pellerin-Pyfrom, Michelle Courville Wilson and Michael Courville. His seven great-grandchildren, Josh and Janey Johnson, Blaise, Brandt and Ava Begnaud, Zoe Nicholson and Molly Valdetero also carry Bob’s hope.
Pallbearers for the service will be David Langston, Harris "Buddy" Pellerin, Tony Courville, Michael Courville, Jamey Johnson, and Blaise Begneaux.
Visitation will be Sunday, August 18, from 2 to 9 p.m. at Walters Funeral Home in Lafayette, and resume Monday morning at 8 a.m. until time of service. A rosary will be led by Father Landry at 7 p.m. on Sunday evening.
Bob’s family thanks St. Joseph Hospice, especially Sara Broussard, Cheryl Polite and Brenda Jeffery. Bob’s special caretaker, Charmin Landry, will always remain in the hearts of the Irwins and the family thanks her.
Floral arrangements are welcome but contributions to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital of Memphis, Tenn. in Bob’s name are also encouraged.