A celebration of the life of museum founder John Rice Irwin will be held in April at the Museum of Appalachia in Norris. The celebration of life is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 24.
Irwin was a cultural historian and founder of the Museum of Appalachia, among other notable achievements.
Irwin died Sunday, January 16, in Clinton. He was 91.
He was born on December 11, 1930, in Union County, Tennessee.
“While Irwin was still a toddler, his family was forced to move from their farm to make way for the flooding of Norris Lake and the construction of Norris Dam,” his obituary said. “They first settled in Robertsville (in Oak Ridge), but the Manhattan Project forced them to move yet again, this time to the Bethel Community.”
Irwin’s obituary said he was captivated by the rich cultural history of East Tennessee and its people for as long as he could remember.
“As a young boy, he would sit at the feet of his grandmother, Ibbie Jane Rice, and grandfather, Marcellus Moss ‘Sill’ Rice, and listen intently to their stories of the past,” the obituary said. “Sill took notice of his grandson’s fascination and said to him, ‘you ought to keep the old-timey things that belonged to our people and start you a little museum sometime.’ It was this advice that would ultimately inspire Irwin to create the Museum of Appalachia.”[Read more…]