William D. Orr, Nebraska's first gentleman when Kay Orr was governor, died Sunday at age 78. Orr, an insurance executive for Woodmen Accident and Life, built a legacy of charity, whit, and intelligence, friends and supporters say.
He died at his home in Lincoln early Sunday morning with his family beside him. He had been in poor health for several years and suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Husband of former Gov. Orr, Mr. Orr became the First Gentleman of Nebraska in 1986 when his wife won a historic election and became the first female elected Republican governor in United States history.
During his time as first gentleman, Orr authored the “First Gentleman’s Cookbook” which gained national attention for its self-effacing humor and high profile contributors that ranged from Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett to former first lady Nancy Reagan.
His promotion of the book included profiles in a wide-ranging number of media outlets including the New York Times and an appearance on the Regis & Kathie Lee Show.
Orr worked for Woodmen Accident and Life, now known as Assurity, of Lincoln for 37 years, ultimately serving as senior vice president and director of agency and marketing operations. His career in the insurance industry began as a field representative in Illinois before moving to Lincoln in 1963 where he worked until his retirement in 1997.
Orr was born in Waukon, Iowa and raised in Columbus Junction, Iowa where his family owned the furniture and hardware business. He graduated from Columbus Junction High School in 1953 and received a degree from the University of Iowa in business in 1957.
Orr was an elder at Christ Lutheran Church, a member of Rotary Club 14, a TeamMates Program mentor, and and Eagle Scout.
Memorials are encouraged to the People’s City Mission and Lincoln Crisis Pregnancy Center.
Funeral services at scheduled to be held on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. at Christ Lutheran Church, 4325 Sumner Street, Lincoln.
Survivors inclued the following relatives:
•Sister and brother-in-law, Janet and Mike Jaeger
•Sister-in-law, Suzanne Orr
•Son and daughter-in-law, John and Brenda Orr
•Daughter and son-in-law, Suzanne and Jim Gage
•Grandchildren, Erin Orr, Connor Orr, Taylor Gage, Alex Gage, William Gage, John Robert Gage, and Samuel Gage