Harold Eugene Irelan passed away 23 July 2018 at Atterdag Village in Solvang, California, at the age of 92. He didn't have a specific illness that was being treated, although he had lung problems years ago. He often bragged that he felt fine, didn't have “aches or pains,” but endured rapidly declining health in his last few days. He was comforted at the end of his life by his family, the loving staff at Atterdag and hospice.
Harold was born 22 September 1925 at his family farm in Southwest Missouri, north of Joplin— the last of eight siblings. His early life included hard work on the family farm, attendance at Prairie Hill School, a one-room elementary school, and graduation from Carl Junction High School 1942. He was the only high school graduate among his immediate family.
After high school he joined the U.S. Navy in 1943 during World War II and trained as an enlisted gunner crewman in the SBD Dauntless aircraft in preparation for overseas combat in the Pacific theater of operations. WW II ended before he completed training. Harold was honorably discharged in 1946.
Prior to his time in the U.S. Navy, Harold married his wife of 54 years, Mary Frances (Fredrickson) Irelan. Together they had six children — three boys and three girls. Mary preceded him in death in September 1997. One son, David James Irelan of Buellton, California, also preceded him in death in October 1998.
In 1956, Harold and Mary moved their young family from Joplin, Missouri to California. They settled in Santa Rosa and then relocated to Torrance in November 1959, where Harold sold real estate. He and Mary moved during 1975 to sell a housing tract in Buellton. They even named a street in honor of him and his family — Irelan Drive! He later moved to Solvang. Harold lived in the Santa Ynez Valley for 43 years.
After Harold's WW II military service, he became an office machine repair technician and then operated teletype and linotype systems during an early career in newspaper production in Joplin, Missouri, Santa Rosa, California and Redondo Beach, California. In 1959, Harold became a professional real estate agent, later became a broker/owner of a real estate firm in Los Angeles County, and later named general manager of a real estate firm with oversight of multiple offices before moving to Santa Barbara County. Beginning approximately 1983, Harold owned and operated Lompoc Vending Company until his retirement and sale of the business to son and partner David in the early 1990s.
Harold had several business ventures, but his greatest career was being an outstanding Dad, grandfather to 14 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren. He was respected and loved by all who knew him. No one ever heard Harold Irelan say an unkind word to anyone. If you asked anyone about Harold, their first response would be that he was a man of the highest integrity, caring and he had a great sense of humor. Frequently he said things that didn't seem funny to him when he said it but would send those who heard it into fits of laughter.
Harold is survived by two sons, Dennis Wayne (Carol Tierney) Irelan of San Diego, Calif. and Donald Gene (Ginny Fiorello) Irelan of Newbury Park, Calif.; three daughters, Karen Louise (Robert) Olynger of Danville, Calif., Emily Claire (Jim) Link of Simi Valley, Calif. and Jane Evelyn (Steve) Lindberg of Solvang, Calif. There are 70 Irelan descendants, family members and spouses.
Harold is also survived by his longtime friend and frequent fun-loving companion, Phyllis Cunningham of Santa Ynez, her daughter Tresha Sell and son-in-law Mike Sell, all of whom included Harold in countless family and community events and are loved by Harold's family.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Folds of Honor (www.foldsofhonor.org) whose mission is to provide scholarships to spouses and children of fallen and disabled service members. Donations can also be made to the Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation.
As Dad would always say to visitors as they left, “so long!”