Irving R. Borden: The passing of a long-time resident of Micronesia and Saipan

Irving Randall Borden

Irving Randall Borden

Irving Randall Borden, one of the kindest and most generous persons I have ever known, and who was instrumental in the development of the English Program in Micronesia and the Northern Marianas during Trust Territory days, recently passed away. Surrounded by his family, Irving died peacefully in his sleep on Dec. 9, 2013, in Benton City, Washington after a long battle with melanoma.

Irving’s introduction to Micronesia was in the Marshall Islands, where he served in the U.S. Navy in the late 1950s. After his military tour of duty, he earned a degree in education and became one of the first members of the U.S. Peace Corps, serving in Borneo. After completion of his Peace Corps tour, Irving returned to the States and earned a master’s degree in English and a pilot’s license. He then returned to the Marshall Islands as an English specialist and worked in the training and supervision of Peace Corps English teachers, later moving to Chuuk to supervise the English Program there.

In the 1970s, Irving left Chuuk and moved to Saipan to work in the Marianas District Department of Education. On Saipan he initially supervised a special English Program at Hopwood Jr. High School, and then later transferred to Marianas High School to teach English. After retiring from the CNMI Public School System in the 1980s, Irving flew for Freedom Air. Some readers might be Irving’s former students at MHS; others might be Tinian residents who recall flying with Irving as he tirelessly piloted the small Freedom Air commuter aircraft on multiple flights daily between Saipan and Tinian.

In 1980 Irving married Jane Aguon and adopted her two children, Mae and Rhiner.

Irving left Saipan in 1999 and moved to Chesaw, Washington, located in Okanogan County. There he built a house on a wooded, five-acre plot in a very remote rural area. He spent his last years tending to trees and neighbors, relishing times of quiet. When it became apparent that living in snow country on mountainous roads far from medical services was difficult and dangerous, he listened to the urgings of his family and moved to Benton City, where he was lovingly cared for by his six sisters and their families.

Irving was quite an uncommon person. At one time during his residence on Saipan, he owned four separate means of transportation: a horse, a boat, a motorcycle, and a two-seater Cessna airplane. The only thing missing was a car. An interesting irony, however, is that he eventually replaced the horse with a car—a Ford Pinto! At his own expense, Irving flew his small plane to Tinian and Rota from time to time to provide service to the educational project he administered on those two islands. Occasionally, he would take a co-worker with him on his short flight to Tinian, but never to Rota; he deemed that trip (which he navigated by dead-reckoning) too dangerous to risk another’s life and always donned a life jacket before taking off from Tinian and heading to Rota. He pastured his horse in the vacant field that is now occupied by the Commonwealth Health Center.

My deep friendship with Irving endured for over 45 years, since I first met him in the Marshall Islands in 1968. He was, without a doubt, one of the nicest, kindest, and most unassuming human beings anyone could ever know. I like to think that Irving, first and foremost a teacher, would appreciate this statement from Henry Adams: “A teacher affects eternity, he can never tell where his influence stops.”

Ed Klingbergs
Chalan Galaide, Saipan

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