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John A. Irick

Posted By Hall-Wynne On June 7, 2008 @ 12:00 am In Obituaries | No Comments

In Memorial

John A. Irick died unexpectedly at his Durham home on June 7, 2008; he will be deeply missed. He was born in the District of Columbia to John Irick and the late Josephine Astel Irick.
John was a devoted and supportive husband to his wife of thirty-seven years, Naeda. They were best friends as well as partners; he could always make her laugh! They took great joy in each other’s company: solving the Sunday crossword puzzle, working in the garden, sharing a meal. He was her light, her truth, her love, her peace. Their love for each other grew with each passing year; he was still the finest man she had ever known.
John was a tender and loving father to his daughter, Alyssa, and his son, John-Stockton. As young children he delighted them in so many ways, such as drawing them amazing reproductions of their favorite cartoon characters to hang on their walls or demonstrating his ability to make a purring sound just like a kitty-cat. As they grew, they knew they could always turn to him for help, to take comfort in his compassion and learn from his wisdom, or just to enjoy a spirited discussion about sports.
John was a wonderful husband and father, a wonderful man, and we are all immeasurably grateful to have shared so many happy times at his side. He had such a huge influence on all of us; he will live on in us. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:20
John dedicated his life to working towards greater health and well-being for all people. By vision and leadership, he contributed enormously and ceaselessly to development of North Carolina’s biotechnology community since his arrival in 1994. His work and roles were without precedent in range and impact. He served as founding President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director of Apex Bioscience, Inc; and as co-founder, Executive Vice President, and Director of MERIX Bioscience, Inc. John joined Biolex Therapeutics in December of 2001 and served as its Chief Business Officer and Senior Vice President. During his time at Biolex, John was a key member of Biolex’ senior management, directing the Company’s efforts in establishing the key business partnerships that are the cornerstones of the Company’s success. As gifted in policy as in company development, he served: on the Emerging Companies Section Governing Board of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, Washington; on the board of the NC Alliance for Competitive Technologies, upon appointment by Governor Jim Hunt; over many years, as founding Chairman and Chairman Emeritus of the North Carolina Biosciences Organization. In addition, he served over the past eight years on the Board and Executive Committee of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, bringing experience and smart thinking to biotechnology development statewide. In all such work, he displayed an extraordinary ability to merge exceptional scientific and business skills with the best impulses for societal benefit. For John, daily and purposefully, development of life science was undertaken for human gain and improvement. His standards and skills manifestly shaped biotechnology in this state and beyond.
Prior to being recruited to Apex, he was Vice President and Principal in The Shaw Group, a private life science incubator holding company in San Francisco, and concurrently served as Vice President, Commercial Development and Director of HemaGen/PFC, a private biopharmaceutical company. At the start of his career John spent 14 years at Baxter Healthcare Corporation, Deerfield, Ill., in various management positions including Vice President in the Blood Therapy Group, Managing Director of Baxter’s Spanish subsidiary, and Vice President of Business Operations at Baxter’s Hyland Therapeutics Division.
John earned an A.B. in mathematical economics from Brown University and an M.B.A. in marketing and finance from the University of Chicago.
He was commissioned an officer in the US Navy and served as the Gunnery Officer and the Antisubmarine Warfare Officer aboard a destroyer, the USS George K. Mackenzie DD-836 from 1971 until 1974. During that time, he accompanied the ship on three deployments from its base in San Diego to the waters surrounding Vietnam and other areas in the Western Pacific. His shipmates remember him as a talented and exemplary officer, and a valuable part of the ship’s wardroom.
Surviving, in addition to his wife and two children, are his father, John Irick, and his father’s wife, Yvonne Irick, of Los Altos, CA.
The funeral liturgy will be offered 10:00 AM Wednesday from St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, with the Rev. Dr. Carol Jablonski and the Rev. R. Martin Caldwell officiating. Burial will follow in the churchyard. Friends may visit 7-9 PM Tuesday at Hall-Wynne Funeral Service.
To honor John’s life science leadership, please make contributions in lieu of flowers to the John Irick Educational Training Internship fund at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center: c/o Steven Burke, PO Box 13547, RTP, NC 27709.

Condolences for the family of “John A. Irick”

Condolence from Julie Ungaro on June 10th, 2008 12:00 am

I will miss his smile at the office. He was a good person and boss. He will forever be in our thoughts.

Condolence from Beverly F. Kincy on June 10th, 2008 12:00 am

He will be greatly missed. To the family; I wish you well during this difficult time in your life. I will remember him always and will keep all of you in my prayers.

Condolence from Scot Shepard on June 10th, 2008 12:00 am

I did not know John well, but always appreciated his advice and admired his presence.

Condolence from MARK COCHRAN on June 10th, 2008 12:00 am

John was a true gentleman who I am very glad to have known. I thank him for being himself and for his inspiration to me and others.

Condolence from Surendran Rajendran on June 10th, 2008 12:00 am

A great man who will be missed but not forgotten. We have lost a very good person. We are completly shocked at the suddeness of his demise. May God give him eternal rest and may his soul rest in peace!

Condolence from Jim Barton on June 24th, 2008 12:00 am

John and I served together in USS George K. MACKENZIE DD-836. John was an extremely competent and caring naval officer and a great shipmate. During the 1972 Easter Offensive we were called on to do some tough things in combat operations over an unusually long deployment to Viet Nam waters. John was always good natured and worked tirelessly day in and day out. He earned the respect of the officers and men of MACKENZIE. He and I stood many a bridge watch together.

It was a pleasure to link up with John and Naeda during our reunion a few years ago and re-live the memories. Another good man from our crew is now gone but he will not be forgotten.

Jim Barton
Captain, United States Navy ret

Condolence from Stanley K. Baggett on June 24th, 2008 12:00 am

I am so sorry for your loss Naeda. You know how much John meant to me as my friend and division officer. He was the consumate professional as an officer in the Navy and I was always proud to call him my friend. He will surely be missed by his family, and his shipmates on the MacKenzie especially me. He was in our special “Band of Brothers”.

Condolence from James K. Engelken on June 24th, 2008 12:00 am

My heartfelt sympathy to John’s family. I haven’t seen John in many years, but I made two Westpac cruises aboard Mackenzie with him. He was a fine young officer and an outstanding shipmate.

Condolence from Mike Goss on June 26th, 2008 12:00 am

I was very saddened by John’s passing. He was more than a good man — and that he was — but he was a friend from many years back when we were both young. I knew him as a Naval Officer … he was the best. I’m proud to have served with him. I pray for his soul and do honor to his memory.

Condolence from Gordon Monteath on July 1st, 2008 12:00 am

Please accept my deepest sympathy on John’s passing. He was a good friend, an exemplary Naval officer, and outstanding shipmate during our years together on MacKenzie.
Fondest regards
Gordon Monteath

Condolence from Steve McPhail on July 2nd, 2008 12:00 am


My thoughts and prayers are with you. Please stay in touch. It appears that John and I have traveled in very similar circles as I have been involved in the biotechnology community in RTP for the past 11+ years and know many people associated with the companies where he worked. He sounds like an amazing individual! I am only sorry that I did not have a chance to get to know him. It certainly appears that you were blessed for 37+ years and are now blessed with the wonderful memories of your life together.

My very best regards,
Steve McPhail

Condolence from Madeline on August 3rd, 2008 12:00 am

Naeda, Alyssa- I am so sorry to hear of this. Please know that my heart and my prayers are with you.

Condolence from Julie Hammer on August 7th, 2008 12:00 am

Naeda and Alyssa,

I am so sorry to hear about this. Please know that your family is in my thoughts and that I will be saying many prayers for you all.

Condolence from Robert Henkens on December 21st, 2008 12:00 am

Dear Naeda,
Your written words brought back vivid memories of John. We know you will hold his memory in your heart.

We hope to see you before long.
Best wishes for today and always,
Celia Bonaventura and Bob Henkens

Condolence from Ken Duke on May 25th, 2009 12:00 am

Naeda and Alyssa, I will be thinking about you during this time.

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