10/30/1923 - 8/31/2021
Thursday, September 9, 2021
A video of the service will be available at:
2727 N. 108th St. Omaha, NE 68164
Forest Lawn Cemetery
John Willard Orr, October 30, 1923 – August 31, 2021
A veteran of World War II and an American Patriot, John was born in Tarkio, Missouri to Willard and Lucille Orr. As John would tell his girls, “They found me behind a rock and decided to make October 30
my birthday.” John loved his family and was devoted to his daughters, attending all their school and athletic events. Never a big football fan, John was at every Northwest High School football game to see his girls march in the band at halftime. This continued with his grandchildren, supporting them at their events, including high school and college graduations and weddings.
During High School, at the age of 17 he earned his Ham Radio License. His call letters were WØPHW. He graduated from Omaha Technical High School in 1941 and soon after went to work for Western Electric installing telephone central office equipment. John was proud to serve his country. During World War II, John volunteered for the Army Air Corp and was assigned to the First Army’s Airwaves Communication System. He spent most of his overseas time on Sterling Island in the South Pacific as a radio technician and in charge of the squadron radio equipment. John returned home after the war to his job at Western Electric, later accepting a position at Northwestern Bell where he would work for the next 40 years. It was at the Omaha Sports Club that John met the love of his life.
On June 7, 1958, John and Evelyn McKinley were married. This past June they celebrated 63 years of marriage. They shared a love for exploring the history and beauty of our country which they passed on to their daughters and grandchildren. Camping, hiking, four-wheeling, road trips and history lessons filled our family vacations. John created and designed a custom kitchen with an icebox for the back of the family sedan. Tent camping led to travel trailers and finally, motor homes. With their daughters grown and retirement at hand, John and Evelyn traveled throughout the United States. For many years John and Evelyn would travel to Arizona for the winter months where they explored the backroads with their Jeep.
John was an analytical thinker and loved to build and to fix things. He was always creating things for his family to make our lives easier. He was self-educated and had a thirst for knowledge. John designed and built the family home of 53 years on Emmet Street. He especially loved cars and anything mechanical. John often told the story about how he taught himself to drive by practicing shifting gears, etc., in the living room on a chair. His first car was a 1931, 2-door Chevy Sedan, that he purchased for $45, only to have the engine bearings fail. He had to continue working to make more money to fix his car. John provided a quiet, calming, and confident presence for his family. He had a sense of humor and always loved a good practical joke. We will miss his quick wit and smile.
John is preceded in death by his parents, his brother Richard Orr and his sister Elizabeth Roberts. He is survived by his wife, Evelyn Orr, his daughters Tay Orr, Tracey Grimme , and Terri Rider ; his grandchildren, Ben Grimme , Sarah Page , Rachel Su , Abby Kemp and Nate Rider; and great-grandchildren, Summer, Charlotte, and Evangeline Grimme, Shepherd, Wells, and Annie Page, Nora and Margot Su, Kashton Kemp, and Kennedy Seward and another great-granddaughter who will join us in January.