Joe Irving turned 103 on Friday.

Joe Irving turned 103 on Friday.

Nelson’s iron man turns 103

Joe Irving celebrated his 103rd birthday on Friday at Jubilee Manor.

Longtime iron worker Joe Irving celebrated his 103rd birthday Friday at Jubilee Manor in Nelson. Born in Thrums in 1911, Irving grew up in Tarrys and Trail.

Despite not finishing high school as a teen, he had a distinguished construction career all over BC, Alberta, Yukon and the US, building bridges, tunnels, dams, and power spans, usually as a foreman. He is the oldest member of Ironworkers Local 97.

His retirement was equally noteworthy: he graduated from high school at 93 and published his autobiography at 95. Asked the secret to his longevity, he laughed “Hard work — and not much money to spend either.”

Irving, a longtime Crescent Valley resident, moved to Nelson a few years ago. He lived at Mountain Lake seniors community until recently.

“He never complains,” said Sylvia, his wife of 57 years. “Maybe that’s why he’s lived so long. He takes everything in stride and never worries.”

Between them Joe and Sylvia have nine children and 22 grandchildren.