The Irvin Family
Painter's parents, Frank and Dona Irvin, celebrate their 63rd wedding
anniversary in 2000.
Nell Elizabeth Irvin was born in Houston, Texas,
at the Houston Hospital for Negroes. While she was still an infant, her
family moved to Northern California, where she was educated in the Oakland
Nell's father, Frank
E. Irvin, was trained as a chemist and worked for many years for the
Chemistry Department of the University of California at Berkeley. Her
mother, Dona L. Irvin, worked for the Oakland Public Schools after her
daughter left home. Her older brother, Frank Jr., died during a tonsillectomy
at the age of five.
After her retirement from the Oakland public schools
at the age of 65, Dona L. Irvin turned to writing. Her first book, The
Unsung Heart of Black America: A Middle-Class Church at Midcentury,
published by the University of Missouri Press in 1993, recounted the story
of the Methodist church in Oakland in which Nell grew up. Dona's second
book, I Hope I Look That Good When I'm That Old, which tells about
her coming to terms with aging, was published in early 2002. To buy this
book, or to browse in it electronically, visit the website of the publisher, iUniverse.
On April 19, 2002, Frank and Dona Irvin celebrated
their 65th wedding anniversary.
By entering higher education, Nell followed a family tradition.
Her grandfather, Dona's father Charles Hoswell McGruder, was a professor
at Straight University in New Orleans (now part of Dillard University).
Nell's cousin, Dona's nephew Charles H. McGruder, III, is now head of
the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Western Kentucky University.