Irwin and Bernita Franzel - 1997
From his earliest days, family was the most important aspect of Irwin's life. He was a devoted son to Benjamin and Eva and was was connected by a strong bond of love to his sister Leila Zweibel. His best friend throughout his entire life was Leila's husband Malcolm. My own childhood memories center largely around special times spent with Grandma and Grandpa and Leila and Mal (and, of course, their kids, Laura and Barry). The Family Tree shows ancestors to the mid-1800's.
In 1976 Irwin had an adventure on the high seas as he moved with his family from New Jersey to Florida to be near his parents and his sister.
|Ben & Eva circa 1955||
Irwin and his wonderful wife Bernita both focused on strengthening the family. They opened their hearts and their homes. Two grandchildren in need lived for long periods of time in their home where love, nurturing and caring were provided in great quantities. I will be eternally grateful to both of them for providing my own daughter with a safe place of refuge, when I was unable to do so myself.
About 20 years of marriage to Lillian resulted in 5 children and a lifetime of memories. For Fathers' Day in 1952 Lillian composed the poem, Ode To Our Dad, which can be found at the end of this page.
Irwin recently told me of a discussion he'd had with an acquaintance in which the fellow was complaining about his own children's lack of success, and asked Irwin about his kids, clearly expecting to commiserate. Irwin's reply was that he had six kids who were all extraordinarily different from one another, and yet the were all great successes.. I was surprised because from my perspective, we were not all great successes - we each had our flaws. But he proudly described our morals, ethics and intellects. And employment - Kathy's career with IBM, Bruce and Jon's work as attorneys, Doctor Suzy's medical career, Dave's entrepreneur and sailing skills, and Robin's civil service. He even more proudly discussed the grandchildren we (almost) all produced.
I only just realized it recently, but I think he sought out our advice on areas we were familiar with as a way of demonstrating his respect for us. He often called Suzy for medical advice, Kathy for business guidance, Bruce and Jon for legal assistance, and I suspect he called David for business, science or sailing advice. He would frequently call me for computer advice. And there's the rub - intellectually and logically he was light-years beyond me - he didn't need my help. But by asking, he was certainly sending the message that our input was valued - that we counted.
David, Bruce, Kathy, Robin, Jonathan, and Susan at Jon's wedding May 31, 1997
On each Fathers' Day we honor our pop.
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