Irvin Williams
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2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Saturday, November 10, 2018
Adams-Green Funeral Home
721 Elden Street

Funeral Service

Thursday, January 1, 1970
Adams-Green Funeral Home
721 Elden Street
Herndon, Virginia, United States
Service Time: 11:00 AM

Obituary of Irvin Martin Williams

Irvin Martin Williams of Herndon, Virginia, age 92, passed away on November 7th at Reston Regional Hospital. 

He was born on March 18, 1926, in Engle, West Virginia to Richard Williams and Annie Williams. In his early years, Irvin worked as superintendent at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. He then worked on several National Park Service projects before becoming a White House gardener during the Harry S. Truman administration. His skill and passion for his craft impressed First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who hired him full time as the primary caretaker of the grounds of the executive mansion. Irvin was very close to Mrs. Kennedy and helped her design the landscape for Kennedy’s new home in Atoka, Virginia. Working with Bunny Mellon, Irvin also helped with the design and construction of the final resting areas for John and Robert Kennedy.

For his service to the Kennedy family during their time at the White House, Mrs. Kennedy gifted Irvin and his family with a treasured family member, their dog Pushinka. Pushinka, which means “fluffy” in Russian, was one of the puppies of Strelka, the famous Soviet cosmonaut dog who, with another dog, Belka, became the first living creatures to orbit the Earth in 1960. Pushinka was a gift to the Kennedy family from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev following a state dinner in Vienna, Austria. Pushinka brought many years of joy to Irvin and his family.

Irvin advised presidents and first ladies on several key projects, including designing new additions to the grounds, overseeing the design of the famous White House Rose Garden, and overseeing the restoration of the White House grounds to their usual splendor following White House events, such as the annual Easter Egg Roll. Despite his hatred for squirrels, Irvin was kind enough to give acorns collected by his grandson to President Ronald Reagan, who so enjoyed feeding the squirrels during quiet moments outside the Oval Office. He even helped install a horseshoe pitch on the grounds for President George H.W. Bush, and it wasn’t uncommon for Irvin to share a pitch with the President from time to time. Throughout his over fifty years of service, Irvin served eleven presidents before retiring during the George W. Bush administration in 2008.

When not overseeing the White House grounds, Irvin’s passion for horticulture manifested in his personal executive garden at his beautiful home in Herndon, Virginia, where he grew hundreds of different boxwoods for his gardens and the gardens of his family and friends.

He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Dorothy; four sons Donald, Gary, Richard, and Bruce, and one daughter Patricia. He was the beloved grandfather of ten grandchildren and sixteen great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be Saturday, November 10th from 2-5 pm at Adams-Green Funeral Home in Herndon, VA. Funeral services will be held Sunday, November 11th at 11 am at Adams-Green. Burial will follow at Chestnut Grove Cemetery in Herndon.

Memorial contributions can be made to the White House Historical Association at

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