Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Gary William Orr, USAFAugust 02, 1933 – December 12, 2016
Gary William Orr passed away peacefully on December 12, 2016 in Bellingham at the age of 83.
Gary was born August of 1933 in Ellensburg, WA to Perry and Evelyn Orr of Naches, WA. Raised in the Cascades, he was an Eagle Scout and enjoyed the mountains as a young man.Gary was a three-sport letterman for Naches High before graduating in 1951. He attended Central Washington College of Education (now CWU) where he met Loretta King (“The best thing that ever happened to him”) of Sunnyside, WA and married her in 1953.
Gary graduated from CWU in 1955 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He received his aviator wings in 1956 after completing his fixed wing training at Lubbock, Texas in the B-25 “Mitchell Bomber.” Gary continued his training at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas where he received his rotary wing rating. His first duty assignment was Kindley Air Force Base, Bermuda where he was assigned to Air-Sea Rescue duties flying the H-19 helicopter. Gary was credited with the rescue of military and civilian personnel during his tenure including the rescue of a fellow pilot who was forced to ditch his aircraft in the Atlantic over ninety miles East of Bermuda. That pilot later described the arrival of the rescue aircraft as “the grandest thing he had ever seen.” Gary went on to serve at assorted bases in Texas and South Dakota supporting Nuclear Missile Silos and other logistics roles. Gary flew thousands of hours during his Air Force career, served as a standardization pilot for the 8th Air Force, and was a truly talented aviator.
After serving 8 years with the U.S. Air Force, Gary departed the service and moved to Missoula, MT where he owned and operated his own business for several years. He departed Missoula and in 1969, moved to Bellingham where he was an employee with Foster & Marshall Investment Company. In 1971, Gary became a stockholder and General Manager of Pacific Concrete Industries where he remained for over forty years. He will be remembered as a patriot, honest and trustworthy businessman, wonderful husband, and proud father of each of his children.
He is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Loretta Orr, and his three children: daughters Shannon Orr, Crystal Orr Henderson (and husband Michael), and son LTC Perry Orr, USA, ret.
A celebration of Gary’s life will be held Saturday, December 17 at 1:00 pm at Moles Farewell Tributes, 2465 Lakeway Dr. Bellingham. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Heifer International at www.heifer.org
Published in Bellingham Herald on Dec. 16, 2016
~ GUEST BOOK ~
December 23, 2016Gary has been a family friend for years and we will miss him. Dad (Mel) and Gary worked together for decades at Pacific Concrete. Gary recently became a resident of Spring Creek where our Mom (Pat) is and it was so good to see him and Loretta again. We wish you peace at this difficult time.~ Scott Stromer, Mount Vernon, WA
December 21, 2016We are so sorry to hear of Gary’s’ passing. Our hearts go out to you and your family. We know you have many happy memories. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. Bob and Barbara~Bob and Barbara Burke, Nooksack,, Washington
December 19, 2016My favorite boss (employer:))of all time… since working for Gary in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, he has always left a fond memory with me. His smile, his advice, and just being able to walk into his office and sit down and talk with him – are truly times I have always missed and always will. Gary gave me my first real job, he helped me with a personal loan for the down payment on my first home, and he taught me a lot about good, hard, work ethic and what you get in return if you invest in it. A very kind and generous man. I must say too, behind a great man is always a great woman. Loretta, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your children. I would like to thank the both of you for everything you two for me. The job came at a time in my life that made a VERY big difference and has certainly helped me navigate and make good, healthy decisions in the years that followed. I will be forever grateful. Gary – Farewell, Godspeed!~ Marcus Sanders, Bellingham, Washington
December 17, 2016I cannot express how much I miss Gary.. I am so sorry :c~ Ata B, Bellingham
December 16, 2016Our deepest sympathies to all of you on the passing of Gary. Our hearts and prayers go out to each of you. Gary was such a good man. May the lifetime of memories you have bring you comfort.Patti Henderson, Patrick and Joni Henderson (and family) and Jim, Kate, and Josh Kresse.~ Kate Kresse, Gilbert, Arizona
December 16, 2016So very sad to hear of Gary’s passing. He was such a sweet man, and I enjoyed working with him over the last 20 years. It was always a treat to see both Gary and Loretta come in to the office. My deepest condolences for his loss.~ Lauri Walters, Bellingham
December 16, 2016I am so sorry for your loss of husband and father. He was a very kind and generous man. I was so glad to finally meet him last year. My prayers and thoughts are with you at this sad time.