Irving Harold Espen
February 15, 1927 - March 26, 2013
Irving was the beloved husband of the late Elsie Marie Espen; brother to Lloyd; father to Susan Fabbro, Hal, and Peter; father-in-law to Ralph Fabbro, Caroline Fraser, and Jennifer Espen; and grandfather to Amanda Fabbro, Kristin Hernandez, and Joshua and Matthew Espen.
He was the youngest son of Louis and Lily Espen (formerly Espetvedt), both immigrants from Norway. Irving never knew his father, who passed away before he was born, and he grew up in the Mission District of San Francisco during the Depression, graduating from Polytechnic High School in 1944. At 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve Corps and studied engineering for nine months at Stanford University. In April 1945 he began infantry basic training at Camp Roberts, California, followed by active service with the U.S. Army M.P. Battalion of the Persian Gulf Command. He was honorably discharged in October 1946.
Back in San Franscisco, he worked at a variety of jobs: as a psychiatric attendant at the U.C. Medical Center, a guard at San Quentin Prison, a driver for the post office, and a reservation agent for United Airlines.
Irving met Elsie at a dance in March 1951 and they were married seven months later on November 3. They joyfully celebrated their final wedding anniversary together 55 years later.
In 1954, following a two-year apprenticeship at the San Francisco Brewing Corp. (later Burgermeister), he began 12 years of employment as a journeyman brewer at the newly opened Hamm's Brewery on Bryant Street, topped by its famous 13-foot-high neon chalice of beer.
After brief sojourns in San Bruno and Daly City, the Espens settled in Redwood City in 1963, and Irving and Espen lived there for more than four decades. In 1966, Irving began a nearly 23-year career with the Redwood City Elementary School District, where he worked as a bus driver, carpenter, glazier, and maintenance painter. He also earned an associate degree in business management at Cañada College in 1973.
Before and after their retirement in 1990, Irving and Elsie enjoyed memorable trips to visit family in Norway, New Jersey, Connecticut, and New Mexico, and cruises to Alaska, the Caribbean, and the Panama Canal. They were active members and leaders at Hope Lutheran Church, in Daly City and at Messiah Lutheran Church and Peninsula Covenant Church, in Redwood City. They established a warm and wonderful Bible study and care group that met for many years in their home. Irving was also a Bible Study Fellowship leader for almost 20 years, and he also proudly led tours and walks as a docent at the historic Filoli Estate in Woodside. In June 2004, Irving and Elsie moved to Covenant Village of Turlock, where they formed many new friendships. He lost Elsie, the love of his life, in November 2006.
Irving was a skilled and gifted gardener with an impressive command of the Latin names of plants. He loved to read, watch old movies, and cheer for the 49ers. Most of all, he was a devoted father and grandfather, and loved to spend time with family and friends. He was a kind, modest, and generous soul.
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