Irving Besser, Palo Alto resident for thirty-five years, died Wednesday afternoon, May 7, 1997, at the Stanford University Hospital, of complications from kidney failure.
Irving and his wife Harriet, constant companions, shared many interests and especially, a love of the outdoors. They hiked with the Sierra Club, snowshoed, canoed, and played tennis. They focused on bicycling and found it a source of keen enjoyment in life.
The Bessers have been active members of the Western Wheelers Bicycle Club since about 1983. They led club rides and hosted social affairs and were good friends to a large number of the club members and other local bicyclists. They have been well- known, frequent riders on club tours. Their bike riding exploits and travels have been the subject of several newspaper articles.
Irving served two terms as Treasurer of Western Wheelers Bicycle Club.
With a cash gift to the Western Wheelers, the Bessers established the Besser Fund wherein fund raising efforts by club members would be matched dollar for dollar to buy bicycles or bicycling equipment for needy children.
Cycling in France...
Speaking of the Dordogne: "We loved it there because of the beauty and charm of the region, the graciousness and friendliness of the people, and the well-maintained network of backroads so perfect for bicycling."
In September 1984, the Bessers flew to Paris, bought two Peugot bicycles and rode directly to the train station to head for the lovely countryside. They bought a small van from a European tour operator and, returning each September, used it as a mobile home and bicycling base.
In Septembers of later years, they rented a house in the scenic Dordogne region of southwest France and cycled through the various villages. They spent 10 Septembers cycling in the Dordogne region, typically riding about 1400 miles during each month- long stay. As they toured the small villages, they chatted with the natives and made many French friends. Some have visited them here in Palo Alto. Only a few months ago, a French couple, who live on a farm and had never left France, made their first visit to the United States and stayed with the Bessers at their Palo Alto home.When American cycling friends came to the Dordogne, the Bessers enjoyed leading them on rides through the picturesque countryside.
The Bessers retired in 1989 when Irving had kidney failure and the scope of their activities was reduced. Even after retirement, he continued his long-time interest in bicycling and bicycling matters. Irving was a charter member of the San Francisco Bay Trail Project, whose goal is to establish a continuous bike trail around the San Francisco Bay. He helped establish the mission, goals, and nonprofit by-laws which created the project. He played a key role on the project's early legislative subcommittee. "His annual re-election as Treasurer over seven years is testimony of his commitment and the board's vote of confidence in his work," the Chairman said.
Irving was also a member of the Regional Bicycle Advisory Committee and was involved in the American Youth Hostel program to open new hostels in the Bay area.
In addition to his committee work, Irving continued his stained glass hobby. Always a voracious reader, he devoted even more time to books after the onset of his illness.
In his early life, Irving was a native of Chicago and attended high school there before he joined the Air Force in World War II. After training in finance and administration, he was attached to the Eighth Air Force and sent to England where he served as a Captain at a B-17 base outside London until the end of the war.
After the war, Irving further pursued Business studies , graduating from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida.
Irving provided financial expertise to various companies in Houston Texas, then in Orange County, California. In 1962 Ampex recruited him, and the family took up residence in Palo Alto. Irving worked for Ampex for several years and, later, for Lockheed.
Irving is survived by his wife Harriet Besser of Palo Alto; his son Howard Besser, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley; his daughter, Barbara Besser, Circulation Manager for MacWorld; his son-in-law, Philip Montalvo; and a grandson Daniel Montalvo, age 7 -- all of Berkeley; and a sister, Leah Besser, of Chicago. Irving was a devoted, dedicated husband, father, and grandfather.
A private memorial will be held.
Contributions in Irving's memory may be made to The San Francisco Bay Trail, PO Box 2050, Oakland, CA 94604
-by Chuck Shoens