In memoriam: Kim Irwin

Kim Irwin

Kimberly "Kim" Dawn Irwin, a longtime member of the media and a loving daughter, sibling and aunt, died Oct. 7 following a brief illness. She was 55.

A veteran newspaper reporter, Kim was best known as a media relations representative at UCLA's medical enterprise. Over the course of her 18-year career there, Kim attracted attention to the work of physicians and researchers across a broad range of specialties, including urology, cancer, neurology and organ transplantation.

Born in Covina, Calif., and raised in West Covina, Kim was the first of four children of longtime public school educators Harry L. and Josephine Mary Irwin. As an enthusiastic member of Edgewood High School's class of 1979, Kim played varsity softball, served as a cheerleader and editor of the school paper and was honored upon graduation with a "gold key" for her service to Edgewood.

After graduating from California State University-Fullerton with a bachelor's degree in communications, she cut her teeth as a reporter at a series of suburban newspapers in Southern California and Joliet, Illinois. In her final newspaper position, at the now defunct Santa Monica Outlook, Kim rose from a staff writer covering health issues, Westside politics and the community of Venice Beach to assistant city editor, assigning late-breaking stories and editing reporter copy for a staff of 10.

Kim joined UCLA in 1998, serving as the media relations director of UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and later as the media relations director of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center. She eventually joined the UCLA Health Sciences Media Relations team, helping instigate news coverage for the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Her achievements at UCLA included coordinating and supervising a nine-month project with CBS's "60 Minutes" that followed patients through an experimental trial for breast cancer. In 2005, she shared an award from the Public Relations Society of America for drawing attention to the launch of the stem cell center. Kim took pride in her ability to translate intricate scientific discoveries into terms that could be easily understood by the general public.

An Alhambra homeowner, Kim enjoyed fine wine, ethnic restaurants, theater, movies, travel, classical and rock music and felines, both wild and domestic. Family, friends and colleagues will miss her never-ending kindness and compassion, delightful sense of humor, crystalline insights and encouraging and supportive ways.

Preceded in death in 2013 by her mother, Kim is survived by her father and his wife, Carolyn Irwin, both of Alta Loma; three siblings, Allison Irwin of Covina, Kristi Ann Seal of Walnut and Patrick Irwin of Rancho Cucamonga; two nephews, Kristian Wyatt and Kollin Jeffrey Seal of Walnut; and her beloved black cat, Sawyer.

In Kim's honor, UCLA's main flag will fly at half-staff on Dec. 1.