Tom Irwin

Tom Irwin
  • BS Civil Engineering 1963
  • MS Business Administration 1966

Tom Irwin: Wisdom, Wealth, and Work

Tom Irwin, soft-spoken and thoughtful, has “taken a leave of absence” from income-producing activities and redirected his energy to such pursuits as fly-fishing in the West, golf in the South, and travel around the world—when not tending to his volunteer duties on various boards and committees.

The outdoor pursuits are not surprising because Irwin, who was from Detroit, came to Michigan Tech in part because of its proximity to the Porcupine Mountains. “We hunted there,” Irwin says. “That was a major tradition in our family.” Outdoor enchantments aside, Irwin, who was co-owner of an asphalt paving company, gets wistful about his working days. “I miss the business. I still stop and watch construction.”

Irwin earned a bachelor’s in civil engineering in 1963 and a master’s in business administration in 1966. He says a Tech education demanded “brains and brawn”—brains for tackling the course work; brawn for battling the winter. He was the first in his family to go to college. It was a sacrifice for his parents. “We were wealthy with love and affection, but not financially well-to-do at all.”

In 1971, Irwin joined H&D Inc. in Petoskey, Michigan. The firm’s work ranged from highways to golf courses, ski hills to airports. He credits his success to “preparation and opportunity.” He imparts this ethic to his grandchildren: “If it is to be, it is up to me.” He and his wife, Bette, have two children and three grandchildren.

As a supporter of Tech, he bases his efforts on “wisdom, wealth, and work.”

Wisdom—“That’s for other people to judge.”
Wealth—“We give what we can, when we can.”
Work—“With all the dedicated people at Tech, it makes you want to be involved.”

A 1990-2000 member and former president of the Tech Fund Board, Irwin was an advisor for two academic programs and is currently a member of the Campaign Committee. He and Bette are members of the 1885 Society and the McNair Society. “I’m grateful for Tech and I’m proud of Tech.”

Used with permission from the Spring 2010 issue of the Michigan Tech Fund Trustee Link