In the final year of the 1920s during a prosperous era preceding the Great Depression, Pearl Ophelia McAlpin was born to Jerry and LaMae Prater McAlpin in Gadsden, Alabama. Ophelia departed this life on September 23, 2020.
Ophelia was educated in the public schools of Gadsden, Alabama and graduated from Carver High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia (currently Clark Atlanta University) where she became a member of her beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She would later continue her education and earned a Master of Science degree in Library and Information Science from Syracuse University in New York.
It was during her tenure at Syracuse that she met and married Charles G. Irving, Jr. of Raleigh, NC. She moved to Raleigh where she established a loving home for her and her husband. After several years ofmarriage, they became the proud parents of their only child, Cyretha Charlene Irving.
For more than forty years, Ophelia held numerous positions in the field of library science, including Head Librarian in Waycross, Georgia and Columbus, Georgia. After moving to Raleigh, she accepted the position of Head Librarian at St. Augustine College (now University) where she received a fellowship to visit university libraries across Europe. After thirteen years of service, she left the college ranks and moved on to the North Carolina State Library, ending her twenty-four-year career with state government as the Assistant Chief of Information. Upon retirement, she became a Museum Docent at the North Carolina Museum of History and a consultant to Shaw University.
Ophelia was a devoted member of Davie Street Presbyterian Church, where she served as both a deacon and a trustee. She was also a member of the usher board and the Presbyterian Women’s Circle One.
Ophelia was involved in many professional, civic and social organizations. These included the American Library Association where she received the Black Caucus Award for Distinguished Service. Additionally, she represented Ebony Magazine, founded by her cousins John and Eunice McAlpin Johnson at various book fairs throughout the country.
She was a lifetime member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and an active member of the Alpha Theta Omega Chapter for thirty-seven years. Ophelia was a charter member of the Raleigh Chapter of Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc., the Raleigh (NC) Chapter of the Links, Inc., and the Continentals Societies, Inc.
In 1991 and 1995 she was the recipient of the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award, bestowed on her by two former North Carolina governors. In 1988, she co-founded the McAlpin(e) Family Genealogical Society, which she considered the hallmark of her life’s work.
Along with her husband and daughter, Ophelia spent her leisure time traveling the world. Of all the places that she traveled to, nothing brought her more joy than her annual trips to visit her family in Gadsden, Alabama.
Ophelia was preceded in death by Charles G. Irving Jr., her husband of 58 years, parents, Jerry and LaMae Prater McAlpin; brother, Jerry LaMar McAlpin; and sisters, Elizabeth Drew and Claretha McAlpin.
Ophelia leaves to cherish her memory, her daughter, Cyretha Irving Knobloch (Oliver); nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews and a host of loving cousins and friends.
Pearl Ophelia McAlpin Irving was a loving, feisty and independent spirit, who leaves many rich and cherished memories for those of us who loved her.
Funeral Service: 11:00 AM, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at Lea Funeral Home Chapel, 2500 Poole Road, Raleigh, NC.
Interment: Carolina Biblical Gardens, Garner, NC.
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