DUNN — Born on June 1, 1942, into a farming family in rural Sampson County, Irvin Warren learned at an early age the value of humility, sacrifice, hard work and the necessity of an education. He spent his early years on a tobacco farm where life was deeply entrenched in simplicity. It takes determination and discipline to till the soil and Irvin learned firsthand how hard it was to survive and provide for a family on a small farm.
Attending public schools all his life, including East Carolina and North Carolina State universities, Irvin completed college with a master’s degree in education. He began teaching and was one of the youngest professors at his latest alma mater. During his college years, Irvin would hitchhike home to help his parents. After the passing of his father, he found himself commuting home every weekend to keep the family farm going. His uncle offered Irvin the chance to be partner in an auto parts business and his own boss. With his youth, confidence and tenacious desire for work, Warren Oil Company was born, and the result has been an unyielding and lifelong commitment to quality and excellence.
It’s simple to write a check and claim you have made charitable donations; it is entirely different to organize, finance and participate in these philanthropic endeavors yourself. Irvin has always been a man “hands on” and fully involved. Most often he chose to remain anonymous when contributing his resources and services. Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a team of surgeons and other medical staff from North Carolina called Irvin asking for financial support to get their group and much needed supplies to the devastated nation. Irvin did not hesitate. He not only offered them his financial support, but use of his corporate airplane for their transportation of six trips total. Our World War II veterans are another cause close to Irvin’s heart. Over the course of eight years he provided an all-expense paid overnight bus trip for approximately 250 veterans and their guests during Veterans Day to Washington, D.C., to see the memorial built in their honor.
Throughout his successful career in business, Irvin Warren has served our community in numerous capacities. He has served on the boards of Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital, the Dunn Area Chamber of Commerce, Standard Bank & Trust Company, Harnett County industrial Development and New Century Bank. He has been a member of the Masonic Lodge and Shrine Club for more than 30 years and is past chairman of the Board of Directors for Divine Street United Methodist Church. He was the 2004 recipient of the Boy Scout Distinguished Service Award, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012 and The Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2013.
Battling significant health problems and seeking a warmer climate, Irvin and Michelle enjoyed his final years in South Florida where Irvin enjoyed boating, fishing, and making friends at local restaurants who always greeted him by first name and knew his favorite selections without asking.
A proud family man, Irvin is survived by his wife, Dr. Michelle DeCecco Warren, and his three children, Wendy Warren Spell and spouse Chris Spell, Bill Warren and spouse Kristy Warren, and Brandan Eaton, and nine grandchildren, Reed Warren, Colby Warren, Jaimmy Warren, Haven Warren, Connor Blackmon, Christian Spell, Grayson Spell, Ben Spell and spouse Diane Spell and Morgan Henry and spouse Matt Henry.
Humility is the one quality that kept Irvin Warren grounded. A captivating speaker, he once said to hundreds of graduates at a university commencement ceremony, “We must always stay true to the principles that allowed us to achieve our goals. God gives us the tools we need to be a success. What we do with those tools is our responsibility. In the end, all glory, achievements and prosperity are to honor Him.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a private service will be held at Skinner & Smith Funeral Home in Dunn on Saturday, Dec 5, at 11 a.m. This service will also be live-streamed through the Skinner & Smith website for all who wish to attend or will be able to be viewed on his obituary tribute wall after 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children, 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607.