Robert P. Orr Col. (Ret.), loving and dedicated husband, father, grandfather and soldier, age 82, of Worthington, Friday Jan. 11, 2013, with his family by his side. Preceded in death by his parents, wife Patricia, brothers and sisters. Survived by daughter, Vicki Craig of Columbus; son, Randy (Camille) Orr of Delaware, OH; grandchildren, Zach and Adam Craig, Cali and Chelsea Orr.

Bob, a father, soldier and friend, loved his family, his country and his friends deeply. Bob and his wife Pat were a great team, achieving many accomplishments together until her death in 2010, the year which marked their 59th wedding anniversary. Bob served for more than 30 years in the Ohio Army National Guard as State Aviation Officer, retiring in 1993. He loved the military and established life-long relationships while serving.

Bob was a perpetually optimistic, self-made man who loved children and had a very soft heart. Every day of his life he was very kind and generous to others, particularly to anyone he felt was less fortunate than him, in part because he felt so blessed himself. He brought youthful enthusiasm and energy to everything he did, including ice skating and golfing regularly until he became too ill to do so.

Bob was a pioneer in medical “life flight” aviation, partnering with the late Dr. Stu Roberts, The Ohio State University, and the Ohio State Highway Patrol to establish one of the first medical helicopter programs in the country. Through his work with Ohio State, Bob became an avid Buckeye football fan and tailgater, hosting large groups of friends and family on Saturday afternoons, rain or shine.

Bob will be greatly missed by his family and friends. The family would like to thank all the wonderful people who helped take care of Bob during his illness. A private Mass of Christian Burial will be held. Entombment at Resurrection Cemetery.

Contributions may be made in his memory to the Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Association, Central Ohio Chapter, 1379 Dublin Road, Columbus, OH 43215 or the American Cancer Society American Cancer Society American Cancer Society, Central Ohio Region Office, 870 Michigan Ave., Columbus, OH 43215.

Arrangements by RUTHERFORD-CORBIN FUNERAL HOME, 515 High St., Worthington, OH 43085. Condolences

Published in The Columbus Dispatch on January 14, 2013

Mike Robeano, Jan 11

There is some sad news to share with all of you that we lost Col Bob Orr today. According to what I was told he died of natural causes at the nursing home. There will be more details to follow from his family as they become available. I was asked by Rick Hall to send this out so you all would have a heads up on the loss of great guy who would and did so many things for many of us, who will never forget him.

Carl Coyan, Jan 12

To the Aviation community of AASF#2 This e-mail is to put some clarification into the death of our Aviation icon, Colonel Bob Orr. Randy Orr, Bob’s son called me yesterday about his dad’s death. He informed me that it was he and his sister Vicky’s desire that the funeral be private. There will be no viewing and a small private ceremony at the Catholic Cemetery North of Worthington. Randy said that his dad died of congenital heart failure at 6:00 A.M. Friday at the rest home. The family had been with Bob throughout the entire night. Our thoughts and prayers should be with the family.
I will take this opportunity to hope all is well with everyone reading this message.

Richard Payne, Jan 12

Sorry to hear about Bob Orr he was a great guy and fine Officer.

Richard Mayo, Jan 12

He will be missed a lot. He did so many things for many of us, who will never forget him.

Rick Bedard, Jan 12

As many of you know, Bob will be remembered as the Father of Ohio National Guard Army Aviation.  I will always remember the day I turned in my flight school application and my interview with him.  He said:  ”…so you want to fly helicopters??  We can teach a monkey to fly if we feed it enough bananas…hell…look at me!”  I said the first thing that came to my mind…”I am a little hungry…do you have any bananas in that desk??” A fine man who will be missed by all!  thx for getting the word out!

Larry Van Syckle, Jan 12

“Big Bird” will be missed by all.

Lew Meyers, Jan 12

I’m saddened to hear about the passing of COL Orr.  I wish him God’s speed.
D.K. Taylor, Jan 12

Thanks for the update, Carl.  And a special thanks to you for ushering COL Orr around to all of the aviation events during the last few years of his life when he wasn’t up to it himself. Although I know he didn’t recognize many people during the last couple years, I will always have a special place in my heart for COL Orr and the things he did for everyone in the aviation community, including me.  May God finally rest his soul.

Roy I. Miller, Jan 12

To me he was a great man with concern for all.  Today I think Paul Holbrook will be passed 5 years ago.

Don C. Carter, Jan 12

Thank you for the update. We will miss his voice, his handshake and his great personal relationship with us. A lost generation of trust and friendship is truly gone. His memory lives on with those of us that knew him. God bless Col. Orr and may he rest in peace.

David Turner, Jan 12
Col Orr after meeting him back in late 70s inspired me to join the National Guard, and later to go to flight school. Always knew you by your first name, was just a first rate person,  leader, officer. God  has him now, thanks for knowing you BOB.

Steve Janasov, Jan 12

Carl, Thanks for this update concerning the wishes of COL Orr’s family.  Our thoughts and prayers will be with him and them during this time.  COL Orr was a great man and influenced hundreds, if not thousands, in the Army Aviation community.  He was a mentor to all he met and will be missed by every one who flew with or was fortunate enough to encounter the wisdom of his counsel. Condolences to all who knew this fine man.

Jim Wilder, Jan 12

Col Orr was the face of Ohio Guard Aviation and made sure it was at the forefront at Guard Bureau when it came to aircraft and money. His philosophy of “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask permission” made life interesting when he was promoting the advancement of Ohio Aviation. He lived life wide open and cared about his people and will missed by all who knew him.

Pete Hobstetter Jan 13
I wonder if Colonel Orr truly realized the positive and lasting influence he had on many of our lives. He will be missed by countless guardsmen and their families. May he rest in peace…

Mark Ryan, Jan 13

Colonel Orr was loved, totally admired, and respected by every Ohio Army Aviator and aviation community soldier who knew him (except one, and we all know who that sorry loser is). It is a fitting tribute to the man that so many remember him for how he touched their life. I always thought I owed him more than anyone for his leadership, friendship, mentoring, and unflinching support but probably not. He was like that for everyone. He was truly one of a kind. And, as we all know, there are literally hundreds of “Col Orr Stories”. I wish I could tell you all of mine, but I’ll just go with the very first one. When I first started joining the Guard in 1970, then Major Orrdecided he needed to see if I could really fly so we took an H-13 from the old cinder block hut AASF#2 on the south side of OSU airport out for a few laps around the sod 27R pattern and then came back in. After getting into Ops he made the observation that I could fly. Funny thing was I’d never touched the controls. By the way, he was the smoothest of pilots. Colonel Orr was equally at home with the generals or with the privates, and he treated them all the same. When he was in a room, regardless of the forum, he became the focal point. He took the Ohio Guard Aviation Program to where it is today, Above the Best. He was/is a damn fine man.

p.s. Thanks Carl for all you did for him.

Dennis Dura, Jan 13
After I read Mark’s comments, I would be remiss if I didn’t add my experience with Colonel Orr. When I came into the Guard in 1970, the first time I met him, he asked me to call him Bob – I could never do that because of his military presence. People should remember that he established a medivac program in Cincinnati in the early 70’s when there weren’t many in the US. He referred to Lynn, Jeff, Mark, Steve, Paul and me as the second generation and made us want to keep the Aviation Program “above the best”. I had the distinct pleasure to fly with him on many occasions. Two come to mind. We experienced an engine failure right after takeoff from OSU in the U8D. He flew and I worked the radio and we landed at Port Columbus without incident. He was my stick buddy in the U21 transition course at Indian Town Gap. Mark is right, he was a naturally aviator. The Ohio 21st century Aviation program owes a lot to Colonel Orr for establishing the foundations of Army Aviation in Ohio. He will never be forgotten by those of us who had the honor to serve with him.

Rich Burke, Jan 14

Echoing everyone else’s comments, COL Orr was a wonderful man who impacted all of us. He always had something nice and or funny to say and we all enjoyed his Orr-isms. Although his family has asked asked for a private ceremony, he will receive military honors and a fly-over which Ii am sure that he will appreciate. Godspeed Big Bird you will be missed by all of us.

Bob Holmes, Jan 14

Thanks Mark and Dennis for your remarks.

Bob and I go back a long way, we graduated from flight School at the same time, August 1957, and served together for thirty years in the guard. I was his Exec. in the 37th Aviation Company and B company of the 137th Aviation Battalion. Bob was always a close personnel friend and we had a lot of good times together as we flew together all over the Country in both Fixed and Rotary Wing Aircraft. Bob along with Dave Guest, Karl Koett, Lu Wannamaker Bill Richards and others of that era set the standard for Army Aviation in Ohio that we enjoy today.

John Harris, Jan 14

Colonel Orr was truly an officer and gentleman.  I recall being a newly appointed officer and running around with very little focus trying to get to flight school.  One day, I stopped in the Attack Troop’s orderly room to check on the whereabouts of my flight physical.  A young DK Taylor tapped me on the shoulder and told me that Colonel Orr wanted to talk to me.  I figured I had pissed someone off and that my shot at flying was officially gone.  To the contrary, Colonel Orr welcomed me into his office and after a few minutes of questions, picked up the phone and called someone (to this day I don’t know who was on the other end of that line).  He chatted and joked with them for about 20 minutes.  When he hung up, he said to me “you’re starting flight school on January 5th”.  That was it!!  Bureaucracy bypassed!  He was genuine and sincere with whoever was on the other end of that line.  It was clearly someone who knew and trusted him greatly.

I will most certainly never forget his impact on Ohio aviation and me personally.  I’m deeply saddened by his loss.

Jim Chisman, Jan 14
I remember the day in March, 1972, when I showed up at the old facility on the south side of OSU to find out about joining the Guard. One of the first people I met was Bob. I was a W2 and he was soon to be an 06, but he treated me like I was combination of son and best friend. I’ll never forget that warm welcome. Bob was truly a larger than life figure and the architect of the great Ohio Army Aviation program from the 70s right through today. He had his own unique style of homespun leadership that endeared him to all and made you never want to let him down. I can see him at the pearly gates personally welcoming all of us in when our time comes and reminding St. Peter not to “get treed by a Chihuahua” or to “pole vault over mouse turds”. Godspeed Big Bird. It was an honor to have known you and flown with you.