HENDERSON HARBOR, NY — Kingsley H. “King” Irwin, 81, passed away on Thursday July 30, at Summit Village, Watertown. He had resided there since 2017.
Born May 11, 1941, in Henderson Harbor, NY, the son of Kingsley H. and Ann Powlin Irwin, he attended Henderson school and worked with his father in the fishing guide business from a young age. He was widely known as a child, in Henderson Harbor as the “fastest fish cleaner ever seen”. He participated and excelled in basketball and baseball while in school.
He married Donna K. Stoodley of Adams Center, NY in 1958. They had two sons, Mark, and Geoffrey.
After their marriage, they moved to Rochester, where he worked for Xerox and Bernzomatic. His true passion, however, was working with his hands and he was fortunate to apprentice with two Italian woodworking craftsmen, “Frankie and Pete” , where he perfected his craft. In 1974, they moved back to Adams Center and bought “Buds Place” , then opened “The Tavern”, which became a favorite spot for many many people in the 1970s and 1980s. King loved to entertain the patrons with his many true stories, limericks, and poems and never-ending tales of fond memories of days past.
King was a fan of hockey, baseball and boxing. He seemed to know every player on every team he watched. He sponsored the fast pitch softball team in Adams Center. He loved Henderson Harbor, being on the water, boating and fishing. He enjoyed playing golf.
In 1975 he bought and restored the Melvil Dewey house in Adams Center. King took his expert skills and knowledge of architecture and woodworking to great heights.
He recognized great potential and opportunity for growth in Sackets Harbor in 1976, and is credited with saving many failing buildings there, including the Bank building, the home of Augustus Sackett, the first wood framed structure built north of Albany, in 1801, which later became the Historic Sackett Mansion. He also saved from demolition, the 1804 Aaron Blodgett Building. The Blodgett House was a source of joy and a project he worked on for four years with his son, Geoff.
In 1980 King and his sons Geoff and Mark rebuilt Kent Stoodley’s barn after a fire.
In 1993, King remodeled Geoff’s gourmet butcher shop, Shield’s Market in Decatur Georgia. In 1999, he built Geoff’s new store, Shield’s Market in Emery Village, just outside Atlanta. After 34 years, Geoff returned to New York from Atlanta, Georgia, to care for his father for several years prior to his move to Summit.
King’s expert craftsmanship in replicating 18th and 19th century interior and exterior moldings was unmatched in the area.
He was dedicated to keeping the memories and the history of the structures alive. He was the first Vice President and one of the four founders of the Sackets Harbor Historical Society, and an avid supporter of restoring old buildings to grandeur. His favorite saying was “ I like to make it look like it grew there”.
He also worked on buildings on Historic Association Island in Henderson and worked inside offices of Knowlton Paper Company. In 1988, he bought and restored a large home on Clay Street, which he called Clay Street Manor in Watertown. He lived there for over 35 years before his illness.
King was known to many for his sharp wit and ability to tell a good joke and a daily story. The staff at Summit enjoyed having him in their care and they are greatly appreciated by his son Geoff, who could not visit him daily like he did before the COVID restrictions.
In addition to his two sons, King is survived by grandchildren Amanda, Casey, Grant, Theodore; three sisters, Mary Breitung, Jean Irwin and Cathy Irwin; 12 nieces and nephews, as well as lifelong friend, Patrick A. Wilder, Foreman and friend Carter DeGraff, and a friend, Linda Crosby.
A calling hour will be held 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 22 at Carpenter Stoodley Funeral Home in Belleville, NY.
Online condolences may be made at www.carpenterstoodley.com