Father’s Day is normally recognized in June, but this year I am making today my personal Father’s Day remembrance. It was one year ago today that my father Reed Irvine passed away. The official cause of death was listed as sepsis, but in reality it was the stroke that he suffered on December 30th, 2003 that led to his death eleven months later.
As my family struggled last year in dealing with the debilitating effects of the stroke we also gained great strength as we were able to reflect and reminisce about the life my father led.
He was born in Salt Lake City on September 29, 1922, and was the youngest of five children. His family was relatively poor and squeezed into a small house in downtown Salt Lake City. Luckily for him his mother instilled in him the importance of a good education and he took her very seriously. He went to the University of Utah then on to Berkeley in the fall of 1942. He joined the Navy and then applied for the Oriental Language School at the University of Colorado where he learned Japanese. After graduating from Colorado he was sent to Japan as an intelligence officer (USMC) to interrogate Japanese prisoners. It was during this tour of duty that he met my mother in Nagasaki. They were married on August 14, 1947.
My father took my mother to Seattle for nine months while he studied at the University of Washington. When he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship he then took my mother with him to Oxford. After completing his studies he moved to Washington, DC and spent 26 years (1951-1977) with the Federal Reserve Board as an economist getting many opportunities to travel with Fed chairmen and governors to South America and Asia.
As the chairman of a local luncheon group that consisted of activists dedicated to fighting communism he was very frustrated at the media coverage of the Vietnam war. With $200 from one of the wealthier members of this group, they set up a post office box and AIM was born. He served as the chairman from 1969 until 2003 and then chairman emeritus until his death.
Thanks to his work at AIM I became interested in politics in the right way. I remember handing out campaign literature during the 1968 presidential campaign (I was nine years old) and excitedly watching the election results when Richard Nixon won the presidency (Chalk that up to naivet?). When I was fourteen he gave me a summer job at AIM and it was a great leaning experience. I went on to other summer jobs over the years, many engineered by my father to gain a broader experience as he put it, but eventually found my way back to AIM after high school. By this time dad was running AIM full time and I now had the opportunity to work on a regular basis with him.
Not all father-son relationships transfer very well to the working environment but we seemed to be a near perfect fit. He handled the writing, research and public speaking like a pro and I was able to handle the business end staying out of the limelight. This isn’t to say that we always agreed on everything but I knew that he was right more often than wrong and he really had a great deal of wisdom. It is that wisdom and insight that I miss the most. At AIM we often ask the question, What would Reed do?
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him and the legacy that he left behind. After all how many people would have had the courage of their convictions in 1969 to start an organization to take on the liberal media? Only this year did I truly realize what a pioneer my father truly was. He blazed the path that has given us conservative talk radio, FOX news and now a burgeoning conservative film industry. We are now reaping the fruits of his labor and yet he probably won’t receive much credit. For him though it wasn’t about achieving fame and glory. If he could reveal the truth and do some good that was all he needed.
He had a remarkable life and I know that he didn’t have any regrets. He lived life to its fullest and used all his God given talents. I awake each morning and thank God for allowing me to have had Reed Irvine as my father. I only hope that I will be able to honor and respect his memory throughout the rest of my life.
Dad, I miss you!