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CP, CBC, Wpg Free Press: ‘It’s really a heartbreaking day’

November 27, 2017 — 

CBC reports on the passing of Dauphin Mayor Eric Irwin [LL.B./1979], a highly respected alumnus from the University of Manitoba’s law school. He died suddenly on Nov. 24 in Key West, Fla. 

Irwin was first elected to Dauphin council in 1998 and had been mayor since 2010. He also served as president of Dauphin’s successful Countryfest. 

Irwin’s death has been a shock, said Allen Dowhan, the city’s deputy mayor.

“I’m beginning [to accept] the reality of the death and the big void he’s left in the community,” Dowhan said, adding he doesn’t know many of the details about Irwin’s death.

“All I know is they were in Florida snorkelling and something happened. That’s the extent of my knowledge of the circumstances.”

Dowhan has said city council will meet with Manitoba’s department of municipal relations soon to figure out their next step. The flags at city hall have been lowered to half-mast.

“‘It’s really a heartbreaking day for everyone involved,” said Rob Waloschuk, the producer for Countryfest. “I still can’t even wrap my head around it. It’s like a bad dream right now.”

He called Irwin a visionary and echoed Dowhan’s comment about the chasm that his death has left in the community.

Read the full story here.

Irwin’s death was also covered by The Canadian Press, who reported: 

Premier Brian Pallister tweeted Saturday that he was saddened to learn of Irwin’s death and that his thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and community.

Irwin, a lawyer, had been mayor of Dauphin since 2010.

“As Mayor, his leadership provided financial stability and projects that offered growth to the community within budgetary constraints,” the statement on the city’s website reads.

“His visionary ability will be missed. His passing creates a void in our community, but offers inspiration to carry out his vision.”

A bio on the Irwin Law Office website says Irwin grew up on his family’s farm at Isabella, Manitoba, and graduated law school at the University of Manitoba in 1979. It says he and his wife, Kim, moved to Dauphin that year.

He became a director of Countryfest in 1992 and its president in 1998.

“Words cannot express how we are feeling as this is a huge loss to our Countryfest family,” the Facebook post from the festival states.

Read the full story here. 

The Winnipeg Free Press reported:

Irwin’s long-time friend and colleague, Yorkton-based music promoter Rob Waloschuk, said he was the driving force behind the success of Dauphin’s Countryfest.

“Not only we were colleagues together in Countryfest. We were friends. We did a lot of things together. You know, trips to Nashville, seeing music together, stuff like that,” Waloschuk said.

The annual festival is one of the country’s biggest country music events and among the largest outdoor music venues in Manitoba. Irwin led it for over two decades, after taking over as president in 1988, the same year he was first elected to Dauphin city council. The music festival put the town on the music map.

“It’s really a heartbreaking day for everyone involved. I still can’t even wrap my head around it. It’s like a bad dream right now.

“He was the mayor. He was the president of the Co-op. He was on Rotary. He had a successful law firm, which, by the way, was the only thing that actually paid him,” his Waloschuk said. “Everything else that Eric ever did, it was all volunteer. He was going constantly, 24/7, and I often asked him ‘How do you do it. Why do you do it?’

“He just truly had a love of everything that he did. Every organization he was a part of, it was because he wanted to make things better.”

Read the full story here. 

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