Discover your family's story.
Enter a grandparent's name to get started.
Irving Dinsmore Townsend, 102, died April 27, 2009, in Baker City.
He requested that no memorial service be held, and he donated his body to Oregon Health and Sciences University for medical research.
He was born in Campbell, Calif., on Aug. 2, 1906, to Dr. Amos Brown Townsend and Elizabeth Leigh Dinsmore Townsend. He grew up in Campbell on the family fruit ranch. He graduated from San Jose High School in 1924.
After graduating he took a transcontinental motorcycle trip from Campbell to the family home in Norridgewock, Maine, on a 1923 Harley-74. Some of the roads were in such poor condition that he transferred from the Lincoln Highway to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and rode between the rails over the cross ties for part of the trip. He visited family in Maine and returned to California via “the southern route.”
He graduated from University of Southern California in 1931. On Aug. 30, 1931, he married Mary Elizabeth Virginia Mac Nair in Saratoga, Calif. He was a temporary National Park Service employee at Yosemite until August 1932, then he and Virginia left for Harvard Medical School where they studied for a year. Their daughter, March Leigh Townsend, was born Dec. 30, 1933.
From 1933 to 1936 Irving worked as a ranger for the National Park Service in Yosemite. He transferred to Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas for a year, then back to Boulder Dam/Lake Meade. He returned to Hot Springs in 1939 as chief ranger. Their son, Irving Mac Nair Townsend, was born Jan. 2, 1940.
The family relocated to New Mexico’s Aztec Ruins National Park in 1944 where Irving served as superintendent. He remained in this position at this park until he retired from the NPS in 1953.
His second career was as an educator. He studied at the University of New Mexico where he earned his master’s degree and his doctor of education. He taught high school science in Gallup, N.M., was a principal in Zuni, N.M., and then became a professor and dean of the graduate school at the University of Albuquerque. He served as a consultant with Teachers College of the University of Libya in Tripoli. He retired in 1973.
Dr. and Mrs. Townsend moved to Reno, Nev., to be near their son, then on to Baker City where he and Virginia lived until her death in 1985.
He relocated to Carlsbad, N.M., with his son, then he moved to San Jose where he married Irma Sanders in August 1986. After her death in May 1990, he moved back to Carlsbad. In 2004 he became the resident in an independent living home in La Mesa, Calif., and then came to Baker City in 2008.
Irving traveled extensively throughout the United States and Canada, to Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and the South American countries of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia. He also traveled to Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Norway, Scandinavia, Wales, England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Malta, Libya, France, Germany, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Russia, Finland, Switzerland, Austria and Israel.
He will be remembered as a loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Also as someone who had a unique ability to connect with people and have a positive impact on everyone he met.
He was a scholar, researcher, and seeker of knowledge. He was adventurous and adaptable.
Irving had a long and good life, and he instilled strong values and loving memories with family and friends, his family said. “We will celebrate those memories,” the family said.
He is survived by his children, March Townsend Miller of Salt Lake City, and Irv and Susan Townsend of Baker City; grandchildren, Anne and Jean Lauprete of France, Cliff and Iris Miller of China, Mac and Pat Townsend of Hawaii, and Aaron and Lisa Townsend of California; great-grandchildren, Michael and Annabelle of France, Tiger, Abe and Erika of China, Ethan and Alexi of Hawaii and Piper of California.
He was preceded in death by his wives, Virginia and Irma, his parents, Amos and Elizabeth, his brother, Harold, and his sister, Ruth.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, May 19, 2009
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor