The Life of Colonel Mary E. Irwin

Colonel Mary E. Irwin, USAF Ret.,  93, (known to friends as “Betty”) died peacefully on Oct. 25, 2021 at Sunrise Assisted Living in Exton, PA. Mary was born in 1928 in Lower Merion, PA to John and Mary Irwin of Cookstown, County Tyrone, N. Ireland. A graduate of Lower Merion High School and University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, in 1952, she joined the United States Air Force. She was assigned to the Air Force Base in Lake Charles, LA. Two years later, she was stationed in Dover, DE where she was a reservist until 1982. A United States Air Force nurse, Col. Irwin  proudly attended to patients at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for 43 years, while fulfilling her military service as well. 

Betty was known for her intelligence, strength, fine taste, and independence. She gave generously to many charities, loved to read, travelled widely, and supported her beloved Phillies and Eagles all her days. She never married but was a devoted aunt who never missed an opportunity to celebrate birthdays and Christmases with celebratory shopping trips for her nieces and nephews. A staunch, lifelong Democrat, Betty campaigned for Democratic candidates in Montgomery County, PA.

She is survived by her brother, George Irwin, nephews John Irwin and George Irwin, nieces Lauri Smith and Cheryl Campbell, and seven great nieces and nephews. A third nephew, Robert Irwin, with whom she shared the bond of military service, died in 2012. She is predeceased by her brother John Irwin who died in 1983.

A private family graveside service will take place. Funeral services provided by Toppitzer Funeral Home at Arlington Cemetery in Drexel Hill, PA.


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Military Colleague

On behalf of the Society of Air Force, please know we are mourning with you the death of our friend and colleague, retired Colonel Mary "Betty" Irwin. She was a remarkable woman who made a difference in the lives of so many in her own journery through life. Betty was a longtime member of the Society, and a donation will be made in her memory and honor. Betty will be missed by many, and she will not be forgotten by the community of Air Force nurses. Linda J. Stierle, Brigadier General, United States Air Force (Retired)

Posted by Linda S on 11/30/2021