Terry Irwin 1943 – 2010

Photo of Terry Irwin
Terry Irwin: farmer, teacher, born mediator, classics scholar, environmental advocate

Picture, if you will, a forest clearing. There’s the chatter of birds in the treetops. A dirt track, recently graded. Heavy equipment stands idle all around – bulldozers, knuckleboom loaders, chainsaws. At one end, a ragtag group of people in beanies and coloured clothing, with backpacks and thermos flasks, sits chatting. At the other, workmen in fluoro vests and helmets stand with arms crossed.

Time passes. Someone, somewhere else, is making a decision.

A tall, silver-haired man, a big bear of a man in jeans, jumper and spectacles, breaks from the first group and ambles over to the fluoro-vested workers. One worker is picking at his chainsaw blade, an oil can at his side.

“I’ve always wondered how to clean a chainsaw properly,” intones the big man in his deep American drawl. “Would you give me some tips?”

The worker looks up from his chainsaw, raises his eyebrows. Shrugs. “… Sure”. And they both squat down over the saw, chatting quietly between themselves.

Another worker joins in the conversation. Then a couple wanders over from the seated group and starts to chat. A few more. Soon, in the clearing, just one group of people, meeting, talking. Waiting for someone, somewhere, to make a decision.

Terry Irwin, one of the best people around, died in the early hours of 15 October 2010. A gruff and curmudgeonly man with an oversized heart and ingrained sense of community, he leaves behind a wealth of quiet contributions, all tinged with love and connection. A keen rider of his bicycle and motorbike, and a keen but frustrated woodworker (“just making sawdust”, he called it), Terry was a farmer, a teacher, a born mediator, a classics scholar, an environmental advocate, a music festival site manager, a committed and caring friend, a loved and loving husband, father and grandfather. All these things and more.

Terry leaves his wife, Lois, son Dean and daughter Kathryn, grandchildren Elliott and Scarlet, a host of friends and the world a better place.

First published in The Triangle community newspaper, November 2010

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