Nell Irvin Painter


The Irvin Family

Nell Irvin Painter photo, 2001  
Nell Irvin Painter's parents, Frank and Dona Irvin, celebrate their 63rd wedding anniversary in 2000.  

Nell Elizabeth Irvin was born in Houston, Texas, at the Houston Hospital for Negroes. While she was still an infant, her family moved to Northern California, where she was educated in the Oakland public schools.

Nell's father, Frank E. Irvin, was trained as a chemist and worked for many years for the Chemistry Department of the University of California at Berkeley. Her mother, Dona L. Irvin, worked for the Oakland Public Schools after her daughter left home. Her older brother, Frank Jr., died during a tonsillectomy at the age of five.

After her retirement from the Oakland public schools at the age of 65, Dona L. Irvin turned to writing. Her first book, The Unsung Heart of Black America: A Middle-Class Church at Midcentury, published by the University of Missouri Press in 1993, recounted the story of the Methodist church in Oakland in which Nell grew up. Dona's second book, I Hope I Look That Good When I'm That Old, which tells about her coming to terms with aging, was published in early 2002. To buy this book, or to browse in it electronically, visit the website of the publisher, iUniverse.

On April 19, 2002, Frank and Dona Irvin celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.

The Irvins celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in 2007, a few months before moving to Salem Lutheran Home in Oakland. Sadly, Dona passed away from heart disease in February 2009. Her website is still up as she left it, at Frank grieved for several years, but, miraculously, his chronic depression lifted when he turned 95 in January 2014 in West Orange, New Jersey, where he now lives not far from Nell and Glenn.

By entering higher education, Nell followed a family tradition. Her grandfather, Dona's father Charles Hoswell McGruder, was a professor at Straight University in New Orleans (now part of Dillard University). Nell's cousin, Dona's nephew Charles H. McGruder, III, is now head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Western Kentucky University.

Nell and Dona in walking down the street in Oakland, 1947  
Nell and Dona shopping on Broadway, Oakland. 1947.  
Dona, Frank, and Frank, Jr. in 1941  
The Irvin family in Houston. Dona (pregnant with Nell), Frank, and Frank, Jr., Christmas. 1941.  
Nell and Frank outside Nell's summer home in Vermont in 1992  
Nell and Frank at Nell and Glenn's summer home in East Stoneham, Maine, before her fiftieth birthday party. 1992.  
Dona and Frank, 70th anniversary in 2007  
Dona and Frank, 70th anniversary, Oakland, 2007.  
Dona, Glenn, Nell and Frank, 70th anniversary in 2007  
Dona, Glenn, Nell, and Frank, Dona and Frank's 70th anniversary, Oakland, 2007.  

The Shafer Family

Nell Painter's husband Glenn Shafer is Dean of the Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick. Her step-son Rick Shafer has a partner, June, a son, William, a daughter, Lilly, and a stepdaughter, Jasmine. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA., and works in PC Support. Her step-son Dennis Shafer plays and teaches as a saxophonist, Soundpainter, and conductor in New York City. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the poet Norma Szokolyai. Glenn's sister Janet Shafer is a graphic designer working in both web and print media. Janet designed this web site.

Dona and Frank, 70th anniversary in 2007  
Nell’s stepson Rick and his family in 2013: (left to right) William, Rick, Lilly, June, and Jasmine..  


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  Site created by:  Janet Shafer Designs