Irv seldom mentioned this period of his life, but occasionally we would chat about it. The inhumane treatment, brutality, pain, and living Hell, that Irv and thousands of others suffered then and since must be a firm reminder of what can happen when despots rule.
In spite of everything, Irv's spirit was not broken. His love of country and fellow man was undaunted, and he showed neither bitterness nor animosity towards anyone, even to his last day on Planet Earth.
I first met Irv via radio, after his retirement and headed south with his camper trailer, looking for a spot to settle down. Knowing the most dangerous thing on the road was a Yankee headed south with a U-Haul, I could imagine the danger of a Yankee towing a Camper?! I suggested a place he may check out, he did, bought a home and set up housekeeping in Northside, NC (across I 85 from Butner). Little did I know the impact Irv would have on so many lives, including mine.
Many times we had late nite - early morning chats via Amateur Radio, sometimes deep discussions into various topics. At times, others would join for a round table. We had fun working DX all around the world. His gruff, gravely voice and witty remarks came to be his trademark. Whenever a new Amateur was licensed, one of us older ones made a point to introduce Irv to this new Ham. Never failing his character, Irv would come back with one or more gruff statements, such as 'Don't need any more Hams' - 'too many now' - 'frequencies too crowded' or any one of a number of phrases. This was his welcome, but behind this deep growl was a heart of pure platinum.
One of his favorite expressions was, 'You Rebs talk funny', and of course, our response, 'We don't talk funny, Yankees hear funny'.
Irv was there when you needed him, whether it was shooting the bull, Simulated Emergency Tests, or the real thing, such as Hurricane Fran. Although his health was failing, he spent lot of time in ARES center at Area B Emergency Management when Fran was raging. He received messages, flawlessly relayed them to proper destinations, plus maintained his jovial manner.
Irv was there when Falls Lake Amateur Radio Club was formed. As a charter member, his expertise was invaluable to FLARC and members. He could be counted on for assistance at annual SwapFests each September in Butner.
Irv was also there on Field Day Exercises. He was a humdinger on CW; his melodious rhythm on a sending key was awesome. Perfect too.
At his death, his 'Reb' friends had the opportunity to meet his next of kin; a sister, brother in law, niece, and nephew. None of us had ever met, but there are no finer friends anywhere, and a shame we never had the pleasure of knowing them before.