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John J. Irwin; L.A. Deputy Mayor to Poulson in '50s

March 06, 1995|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

John J. Irwin, a former president of the Los Angeles Police Commission and executive deputy mayor to former Los Angeles Mayor Norris Poulson, has died. He was 86.

Irwin, who retired from his private law practice in 1993, died Feb. 22 at Casa Palmera Care Center in Del Mar.

Poulson appointed Irwin to the Police Commission on July 2, 1953, when William Parker was chief of police.

"We approach the responsibilities entrusted to us by Mayor Poulson," Irwin said then, "with humility and with a determination to remember that we should at all times adhere to one fundamental policy, the public good."

On Sept. 14, 1953, Poulson persuaded Irwin to take the full-time post as his executive deputy mayor.

"I am delighted that I was able to persuade Mr. Irwin to leave a profitable law practice to join my staff," Poulson said at that time. "He will, of course, be missed on the Police Commission. However . . . there is no question that he can render even a greater public service as deputy mayor."

Irwin remained in that position for two years before resigning to resume his practice of law.

Irwin also served as administrative assistant to former President Richard Nixon when Nixon was a senator and campaigned for him under the banner of Democrats for Nixon.

A native of Port Huron, Mich., Irwin earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Michigan before moving to Los Angeles.

He studied law at Loyola University in Los Angeles and, at the age of 28, became the youngest assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.

Politically active, Irwin served as a national committeeman for the Young Democrats in the 1930s, but later changed his voter registration to Republican.

He was also active in the Catholic Church and was named a Knight of the Holy Sepulcher. Before he moved his law office from Los Angeles to La Jolla in 1958, he handled legal matters for Cardinal James Francis McIntyre. Irwin also chaired the Catholic Industrial Council.

Irwin is survived by his wife of 59 years, Hermila; two sons, Joseph R. Irwin of Solana Beach, Calif., and James W. Irwin, a missionary in Mexico; a sister, Elizabeth Donahue of Quebec, and three grandchildren.

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