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Orr spends life serving country, community

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020315 Virgil Orr C.jpg
Virgil Orr, pictured in his military uniform, served the country for two years before returning to Louisiana to further his education.

Education, military service, family and faith, can all be used to describe longtime resident of Lincoln Parish Virgil Orr.

Orr who will turn 92 years old later this week, said his age is mind-boggling.

“I’m fortunate to get to the point where I am,” he said.

During his career, Orr served as a vice president of academic affairs at Louisiana Tech University, and as a state representative.

A family filled with two daughters, four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren, Orr and his wife Myrtis have had a happy 70 years together.

“You have to be appreciative and respectful,” Orr said of a happy marriage. “If you don’t do that you will soon lose contact. You have to have a real connection, and always be helpful.
“I’m the best dishwasher in Lincoln Parish.”

But Orr’s history in Lincoln Parish goes further back than decades of marriage. Orr said he came to Ruston in 1940 as a student at Louisiana Tech University, where he studied chemical engineering.

“My tuition was $492 back then,” he said. “But after 4 1/2 years of schooling the long arm of Uncle Sam reached out in 1944 and I was drafted.”

Orr said he and Myrtis were married April 13, 1945.

“She grew up in Lincoln Parish,” he said. “She is a year younger than I am. We met while working at the dining services at Tech. It was love at first sight on my part.

“I had an advantage. I just had to get rid of her two or three boyfriends first. She was majoring in home economics and needed tutoring in chemistry. As she likes to say our chemistry worked well together.”

Orr said he had good fortune during his service and only served two years in the U.S. Army.
“I was in a mapping outfit,” he said. “I was shipped overseas to (help Gen. Douglas) McArthur to create invasion maps of North Japan.

“We all had a strong feeling that there wouldn’t be a need for map drawing much longer.
“What many don’t realize is that World War II was purely an American war at that point, with the exception of Great Britain fleets that carried some troops.”

Orr doesn’t regard himself as a hero, though he said he has them.

“My heroes range from the checkout girl at the store to the university president,” he said. “It’s not what they do for me, but what they do period for their livelihood is what makes them a hero.”

Once back from the war, Orr said he went on to further his education in chemical engineering at Louisiana State University. He would go on to receive his masters and doctoral degrees.

He said he thought himself to be a rock hound at one time — someone who searched for arrowheads. But Orr said he put that down many years ago to work on his stained glass.
“I don’t know how many pieces I’ve done,” he said. “I used to try to keep up with each one, but I didn’t do very well. I’m sure it is in the several hundreds.”

However, his greatest accomplishment wasn’t something he achieved through a university per se, but marrying Myrtis.

“I was overseas for 1 1/2 of those 70 years,” he said. “But she has been a great companion and we have been happily married.”

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