Obituary for Arthur L. Irving

Mr Arthur Irving
Publication date

After a long, courageous battle with cancer, Arthur Irving passed away on May 13, 2024, at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. 

Arthur Irving was born on July 14, 1930, to Harriet Lila and Kenneth Colin Irving at the General Hospital in Saint John, New Brunswick. 

He grew up on Mount Pleasant Avenue, in Saint John, the place he would always proudly call home. He often shared fond memories of his time as a child attending Winter Street School. Forever an entrepreneur, he was always proud of the first sales award he received as a child for top sales of the Saturday Evening Post and the business he started with his brothers, the Jim, Art and Jack farm, selling eggs. This passion for making the sale he would carry through his life. 

Arthur loved the time he spent at Rothesay Collegiate School and Acadia University – in meeting lifelong friends, and especially his fond memories of playing with the Acadia Men’s Varsity rugby team. Later in life, he would serve as the university’s chancellor and always looked forward to his visits to Acadia. 

In 1951, Arthur returned home from Acadia to join the family business, Irving Oil. He would always refer to this time in his life as coming home to the very best teacher he would ever have in his father. 

In 1972, he became President and Chairman of Irving Oil – what would be a lifelong commitment to the company and its people he loved with all of his heart. With his vision, leadership and enormous drive, the company would grow to become what it is today. 

He loved spending time with employees and would never miss a chance to thank a customer for their business. He would always remain deeply committed to the company he loved. 

He loved Sandra, his wife and partner in life, with all his heart. He loved his family, his home, his dogs, and the company he dedicated his life to building. 

Through many serious health challenges, he never, ever gave up. He loved life and had an incredible will to live. He was always thankful for the care and support of the researchers, doctors and nurses who helped him so much. A very special thank you to all those who helped him through his final cancer battle over the past year. He was forever grateful for your kindness and your care. 

He loved time in the outdoors and always a good adventure. He loved canoe trips in the Arctic. He loved adventures on his motorcycle. He loved flowers and trees and picking berries. He loved being in the woods, and he loved picking apples at his orchard and sharing them with the employees of Irving Oil every year. 

In all that he did, he was a true champion for Atlantic Canada. “I wouldn’t ever want to be anywhere else,” he would often say. He loved home. He loved New Brunswick. 

Together with Sandra, he was always proud to support students in achieving their dreams and always loved when students would ask him questions, a lesson he would always share – always ask a lot of questions.

He had the deepest respect for his parents, honouring them through his life in the development of the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens at Acadia University and the Harriet Irving Library Research Commons and Rose Garden at the University of New Brunswick, amongst other special tributes throughout his life. 

He, together with his wife Sandra, have been deeply committed to supporting health research and care, always with the goal of making a difficult journey better for someone else. 

At home in Saint John, they championed the cancer survivorship program and at the Lahey Clinic, have supported a chair in Neurology and mentorship programs. At the Massachusetts General Hospital, Arthur and Sandra are dedicated champions of cancer research and care. A special thank you to his team of doctors and nurses there who helped him so much over the many years. 

Through his life, Arthur was forever proud of his commitment to Ducks Unlimited, serving on the Board for 32 years, two of these as President. His lifelong commitment would help to propel environmental research across Atlantic Canada. The Beaubassin Research Station was a special project that he would champion in propelling the field further forward. The Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society at Dartmouth College and the Arthur L. Irving Entrepreneurship Centre at Saint Mary’s University are too a lasting legacy of a deep commitment to making this world a better place. 

His efforts were recognized in being made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002, and in 2012, he received the Order of New Brunswick. In 1997, Arthur was inducted into the New Brunswick Business Hall of Fame, and in 2008, he was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. Arthur received a Doctor of Civil Laws from Acadia University in 2003; and was granted the title of Chancellor Emeritus from Acadia in 2010. He was honoured to receive an Honorary degree from the University of New Brunswick and from Dartmouth College. In 2013, Arthur received the Red Cross Humanitarian Award for outstanding leadership and in 2019, the Paul Harris Fellowship from the Rotary Club of Saint John, for exemplifying the Rotary motto of "service above self."

His legacy is lasting in his commitment to making Atlantic Canada, Canada and our world a better place. His life lives on in the so many lives he has touched. 

Arthur lived a long life at 93 years, but it would never be long enough. Arthur leaves his wife of 40 years, Sandra Irving, who he loved with all of his heart and who was always by his side; his brother James K. Irving; his children Jennifer Goddard, Kenneth Irving, Arthur Irving Jr., Emily Irving and Sarah Irving; eight grandchildren, a great granddaughter, and many wonderful friends and employees who carry his legacy with them always. His brother Jack, who he dearly missed, died in 2010. 

A service will be held to celebrate Arthur's life at his home in Saint John on Saturday, May 18th at 10 am ADT. Arrangements are under the care and direction of Brenan’s Funeral Home, 111 Paradise Row, Saint John (506-634-7424).

We are forever thankful for his life, love and his inspiration. He will be forever loved and forever missed. 

For those who wish to honour his life and his deep desire to help cancer researchers, doctors and other cancer patients, donations may be made to the Mass General Cancer Center