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In Memoriam: Former College of Marin President Irwin "Red" Diamond

Irwin "Red" DiamondIrwin "Red" Diamond -- Aug. 2, 1921 to Jan. 26, 2010. Former president of College of Marin and loving father, friend, and mentor died of melanoma on Jan. 26, 2010, at Villa Marin. Irwin, son of European immigrants, Harry and Revkah Diamond, youngest of four brothers, was born and raised in Oakland where he was an all-city basketball player and graduated in 1942 from UC Berkeley where he played varsity basketball and later coached freshman basketball.

During World War II, Red was a captain and fought in the Philippines in the infantry and was awarded a Bronze Star. Following the war, he taught high school in Brentwood where he met fellow teacher Eva Schifferle (died 2005). They married in 1947 and moved to Marin County where Red launched a long and distinguished career at College of Marin. He and Eva built a home in Sleepy Hollow where he lived until last year.

In his first position as basketball coach, he took his team of ex-GI's to the national championships in Missouri where, as underdogs, they won the national title. Subsequent positions included Dean of Students, President, and Superintendent of Marin Community College District. He played a vital role in developing educational and student programs that served the needs of the entire Marin community. He recognized the pivotal role community colleges play in enacting social change and strove to stay current with a rapidly evolving community. Besides initiating programs for the disabled and re-entering students, he founded the College Marin Foundation that provides support for its multi-faceted programs. In recognition of his contributions, College of Marin named its newly renovated athletic facility in his honor-the Irwin P. Diamond Physical Education Center.

Red was considered a source of strength, rationality, and love by his colleagues. In 1971, after Jim Raynes, a COM economics professor died, Red and Eva welcomed his children Michael and Susan into their family. Following Red's retirement in 1984, he assisted family friend Barbara Leibert in managing her properties and projects. Red was an enthusiastic supporter of Eva's many creative projects. Just this past summer, he took particular pride in a watercolor exhibit of her work at Villa Marin. He accompanied Eva when she taught travel sketching on cruise ships and caught up on his reading, a lifelong pleasure for him. Another pleasure was gardening. He and Eva enjoyed entertaining and relaxing in their lush and peaceful oasis by the pool. Right about now he would be planting tomato seeds in his greenhouse. Red continued to stay active with College of Marin and was often summoned for guidance. He served on the school board at San Domenico School.

Red was a devoted father and grandfather, finding joy in his brood. Graciously and enthusiastically, he attended their numerous sports events, plays, and graduations. Despite his significant contributions to the College of Marin, Red shared what he valued most - his relationships with family and friends. Underneath his modesty and warmth, he was a man of strength, integrity, and fierce loyalty, whose enviable good disposition and sense of humor garnered love and respect from all who had the good fortune to know him. Red is survived by Robert and Gerilyn Diamond, Joan Diamond and Kirk Smith, Andrea and Richard Winden, Carol Diamond and Howard Rowley, Susan Raynes, Michael Raynes and Margaret Mahony, and 16 wonderful grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, you may donate to the College of Marin Foundation at www.comf.org. The family is planning a memorial for late February. For information, contact Joan Diamond at diamondjm@comcast.net.

This obituary has been posted with the family’s permission.

The memorial will be held at the Diamond PE Center Gymnasium on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010 at 2 p.m.

Ribbon cutting

Photo: From left COM Superintendent/President Dr. Frances L. White and former COM Superintendent/President Irwin P. “Red” Diamond cut ribbon at the grand reopening of the Diamond PE Center.

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