William Alfred Orr Jr., 93, of Sweeny, Texas passed from this life on Sunday, May 5, 2019. He was born on February 1, 1926 in Sweeny, Texas to William and Devorah Adeline (Redding) Orr.
How do you summarize a man's life? Is it even possible, especially in 60 photos and six inches of newsprint? Two to three songs and an hour of words will never fully reveal who a person was, what was achieved, learned, loved, cherished, and enjoyed; fought for, forgiven, or hoped for.
As the sorting and sifting through all that is left behind has begun, several themes are clearly laid out which parallel who my father was, what he had cherished, how he walked among us, and even how his life would end. Deeply logical, fiercely committed to justice and equality, and desiring a peaceful harmony in life, Dad always expected to find people with noble character, honor, dignity, worth, honesty - especially among those he served as an advocate in his 63 year career as an attorney. It pained him deeply when that expectation wasn't proved true. While he forgave freely, giving multiple second chances, those clashes with reality and hope often led to very long conversations with me about the ingratitude and stubborn selfish stupidity of people which Dad never seems to reconcile with the way he saw life, always hoping for people to improve becoming that better version of themselves that he so longed to see. Dad fought other foes too whose reflections are seen in his collected belongings from his time in WWII as an Air Force gunner and company boxer to the many civil and legal opponents in more trials that I could count right up to the day his body failed him, for his spirit never did.
With a work ethic that would grind most folks down, Dad still enjoyed crossword puzzles, walking his beautiful land, tending flowers and raising tomatoes, reading poetry, and listening to classical music in those days he gave himself the time to do so. One of his greatest joys was swapping stories with family and friends, and there were many happy times playing cards, dominoes, and yahtzee. His sense of humor and a discerning wisdom shielded him, I hope, from becoming bitter at the end, and reflected that characteristic optimism we all knew as dozens of saved comic strips, jokes, and witty sayings would confirm. And, of course, there were those hunting trips to the dear lease and the beach house, boating and fishing on the river, and the horses!
While my youngest brother, Clay, liked my tribute well enough that he wants it read at Dad's funeral, he thinks I didn't include enough accolades about Dad's achievements. Truthfully I didn't try because I feel certain I'm going to leave something out someone remembers better than I do, or feels is more significant than the way I wrote it, or -- well, you get the picture.
Having said that, and hoping that you will be forgiving, here goes:
Dad was always very proud of his academic achievements, graduating high school in 1942 at 16 as the top male student in his class (two girls had higher scores) earning a scholarship he was too poor to use, Dad went to work supporting the family he deeply loved for two years until he was old enough to join the Air Force in 1944. After his discharge at the war's end and marrying Rose Marie, the love of his life, Dad passed on a promising boxing career to peacefully settle into the 'good life'. Encouraged by a supervisor at his job and with his childhood passion for the law still burning bright, he worked his way through Wharton County Junior College where Dad graduated with honors. As the president of his class, Dad was deeply invested in life on campus as a member of the Student Council, president of the Government Club, competed on the Debate Team winning several medals (which he cherished until his death and are still among his treasures), and belonged to the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (which means his GPA had to be at least 3.5).
Always able to disciple himself to stay focused on the task at hand and how it led to his ultimate goal, Dad took that Associate's Degree, and continuing to work full time through the days, he attended South Texas Law College three to four nights a week for the next two years graduating in the Spring of 1955 with his LLB and passed the Bar Exam that October. This was quite an achievement since most folks have at least another year of study, earning a doctorate in the law before attempting the Bar and Dad bragged about it, but not too often! This would be the promising start of a long and vigorous career seeking justice.
I should note that Dad told me during several of those long car rides between courthouses that while earning his LLB, he reached a point where he was overwhelmed and exhausted. Turning to Jesus in prayer, Dad asked for strength to finish his task in exchange for a promise to 'defend those who couldn't defend themselves' for as long as Jesus continued to give him power and breath to do so. They both kept that vow. Even after his pacemaker was placed, Dad still hoped to return to the courtroom until just about a month ago.
But beyond all the activities, Dad loved providing and protecting his family and fought with all his energy to control life's circumstances to achieve that 'good life' for them. I am forever grateful for the foundation Dad and Mom built for me and into me. Like all people, Dad had his flaws, but a lack of love wasn't one of them. My warrior, William Alfred Orr, Jr., has at long last laid down his sword and is gone from the battle of life. Thank You, Jesus, that Dad's time limits and deadlines are done.
Funeral services will be held 10:00 am Friday, May 10, 2019 at the First Baptist Church in Sweeny with John Price officiating. Burial will follow at Sweeny Cemetery. Visitation will be held on Thursday, May 9, 2019 from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm at Baker Funeral Home in West Columbia. Serving as pallbearers will be Noel Jay Orr, Doyle David Orr, Dudley Huebner, Jonah Bailey, Darryl Orr, Mike Orr, James Orr, and Bubba Orr.
William is survived by his sons, William Alfred Orr III and Clayton Redding Orr and wife, Lisa; daughter, Cheryl Marie Orr; brothers, Noel Jay Orr, and Doyle David Orr and wife, Debbie; sisters, Delores Brauer, Noma Laughlin, Deanna Cundall and husband, Ken, and Kitty Chase and husband, Max; grandchildren, Colton Redding Orr, Brittany Elaine Orr, Christian Redding Orr, Canaan Redding Orr, Jessica Lynn Greak and husband, Joshua, and Jacobi Judd Orr; great-grandchildren, Gracie Nicole Orr, Jase Redding Orr, Abbott James Orr, and Camden Ray Orr.
He is preceded in death by his parents, William A. and Devorah A. Orr; wife, Rose Marie Orr; brothers, Dan C. Orr, Edgar Ray Orr, Billy B. Orr, James Rodney Orr, and Neil G. Orr; and sister, Geraldine Orr Huebner.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in William's name to veterans help organizations, Gideons International, boystown.org, or indianyouth.org.
To plant a tree in memory of William Alfred Orr, Jr., visit the Tribute Store .
634 S Columbia Dr
West Columbia, TX 77486
402 N. Main St.
Sweeny, TX 77480
Sweeny, TX 77480