In Memorium – David Irwin

Published by Minnesota Atheists on

Founding and Life member David Irwin died on January 13, 2009.  He was 89.  David lived a long life highlighted with many accomplishments.  David was born on January 1, 1920 in Des Moines, Iowa; he served in the air corps during WWll, went to divinity school for two years and eventually realized he was an atheist.  

From 1976 to 1984 he shared his life with his lover Dick Hewetson (a fellow Minnesota Atheist member).  Together they co-founded the Quatrefoil Library, dedicated to the collection and preservation of information about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and other sexual minorities (GLBT).  They started the library with their own collection of 1,500 books relating to homosexuality.  In 1986 Matt Stark, also a Minnesota Atheists member and director of the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union (MCLU), rented them space in the MCLU building to display their books. The library never looked back.  

This is only one of three such lending libraries in the country dedicated to GLBT issues.  It is open to the public daily and has educated the public and saved many GLBT lives over the years. The first part of David’s life was that of a gay man trying to live as a straight man.  He married his high school sweetheart, a woman, and had two children.  This was in the 1940s and after a few years they divorced. David lived as a closeted gay man until the start of the Quatrefoil library.  

When the public announcement of the library was made, he used this as an opportunity to let his family know about his sexuality.  The reaction was mixed.  His two children rejected him. Others reacted with love and understanding. For two of his family members, who David cared for deeply, it was a non event.  

After that David and Dick came out to the GLBT community as atheists. But they still had more educating to do.  They both have won awards for their work founding the Quatrefoil where they always mentioned their association with Minnesota Atheists.  David and Dick separated, but worked together on the library and remanded good friends.   David was an avid book reader. He played Bridge as often as possible and was a regular at the Quatrefoil.  

His legacy is he lived his life to its fullest and he eventually freed himself from the shackles of society conformity and used his experience to make a difference for the lives of others.  The world is a better place because of David.  We were honored to have him as a member.  

Memorials are requested for the Quatrefoil Library, 1619 Dayton Ave., Suite 105, St. Paul, MN 55104 (651) 641-0969.

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