Herbert Bernie Orr, M.D., died November 13th of cancer. He was 85.
Dr. Orr was a one of the last general practitioners. In the early days of his career, he performed surgery, delivered babies and did the routine physical. Later, as medicine became more specialized, he focused on internal medicine primarily in a family practice.
While medicine was important to him, even more important to him was his Christian faith. His faith was the foundation of his life; his practice of medicine was a form of ministry. Later in life he also wrote books and pamphlets and became an avid letter writer, all with the goal of spreading the message of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Orr was born in Chattanooga in 1937 to Melvin Orr and Gladys Chase Orr. His early childhood was spent on the family farm in Polk County, Tennessee, where he learned to love the natural world particularly flowers. Following his father's untimely death, when Dr. Orr was 8, the family moved to Cleveland, Tennessee. Dr. Orr graduated from high school in Cleveland and then went on to Carson Newman College on a scholarship, where he studied chemistry. From there, he went to the University of Tennessee medical school in Memphis.
It was while at UT-Memphis that Dr. Orr met Patricia Wood. She was coming to the University to attend graduate school in chemistry and the Baptist Student Union was looking for volunteers to greet her. It did not take Dr. Orr long to decide he wanted to marry the smart, lovely woman from MIssissippi. The couple married in December of 1962 right after Dr. Orr finished medical school.
Dr. Orr spent his internship at Baroness Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. Following his internship, he served in the United States Public Health Service, providing medical care through the Indian Health Service on the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota. His first son, Melvin, was born during his time in service. Upon discharge, Dr. Orr moved to Mobile where he did a residency in general surgery at Mobile General Hospital. Following his residency, the family moved to Monte Vista, Colorado, where Dr. Orr worked in private practice and also served as the doctor for an American Baptist health clinic. Daughter Rachel and second son Flint were born during the time in Colorado.
The family relocated to Mobile in 1977 as members of Gulf Coast Covenant Church and Dr. Orr went to work for Family Medical. Dr. Orr retired from medicine at age 65. His latter years in the profession were difficult, in part because of his own medical issues. More rewarding was his time spent as a volunteer at the Home of Grace for Women, for which he was eventually awarded a plaque for his years of Christian ministry, love and service.
His passions included music -- which anyone who ever attended a church service with him knows, as he sang very loud, very flat and with great conviction -- and his flowers. When his grandchildren visited he was quick to share with them his hibiscus, camellias and petunias. He shared his crystal collection, specimens he had grown himself. They also learned about the possum he left scraps for at the back fence.
Dr. Orr was preceded in death by his parents and his sisters Melva and Margarett. He is survived by his wife, Patricia, his sons Melvin and Flint and his daughter Rachel, by his sisters Joyce Bush and Gwen Goforth, several nieces and nephews, and his grandchildren: Walker Orr, Miguel Orr, Olivia Orr, Barra Peak, Eben Peak and Vivian Peak.
Services will be held at the Mobile Memorial Gardens Funeral Home, 6040 Three Notch Road, Mobile, AL 36619 on Saturday November 19, 2022. Visitation will begin at 11:00 and will continue until the Chapel Service beginning at 12:00.