James Richard Orr was born into this life on January 24, 1942 and passed away after a brief illness on May 27, 2021. His parents were Alma (Gavin) and Loras Orr. Jim attended Scared Heart and St. Alphonsus grade schools, St. Ambrose Academy and Assumption High School, graduating with the Class of 1960.
Jim married Mary Sue Maher, his soulmate and playmate on August 19, 1967. When Jim was 5 and Mary was 4 years old, he proposed to Mary, telling her “someday I’m going to marry you.” They enjoyed 53 years of marriage.
Jim was Regular Army, assigned to the Army Intelligence and Security Agency, which answered to the National Security Agency, as a cryptographer. Jim also was a member of the Honor Guard, while serving in Japan. After discharge, he was recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency as a cryptographer. He had the highest clearance issued; a Top Secret Cryptographic clearance.
After resigning from the CIA, Jim continued his education, under the G.I Bill, receiving an A.A. Degree from Black Hawk College and a B.A. Degree in Business and Economics from St. Ambrose College. While attending St. Ambrose full time, Jim worked as a full-time truck mechanic at International Trucks, Davenport. Jim also operated a snow removal business in the winter months.
After graduation Jim launched his dream of owning a trucking company, with the purchase a used dump truck. He operated that business for 12 years until it became evident that he could not compete with the larger well established trucking companies. During the time he owned the trucking company, he was the founder of the Mississippi Valley Trucking Association, which allowed owners and drivers to engage in group purchases for their personal and business-related needs.
With an endorsement by a life-long friend, Serjio Casillas, Jim was offered a position as a maintenance supervisor at the John Deere Parts Distribution Center. Jim advanced to different positions within Deere for 30 years. Jim was blessed with an inventor’s mind and invented several concepts that were used successfully by the John Deere Parts Distribution Center’s maintenance department, saving significant operational costs. After retiring from Deere & Company, his new career led to the development of 7 patents, a non-profit and a manuscript. Jim remained active and involved in the development of the patents and non-profit until his death.
In his spare time, Jim remained very active, becoming a pilot and aircraft owner. Jim was president of the Davenport Airport Commission for 3 terms and established the Mississippi Aviation Association. He was also member of the American Legion, Airplane Owners and Pilot Association and the Experimental Aircraft Association. He also served as a hospice volunteer. He loved rescuing dogs and cats.
Jim is survived by his loving wife, Mary; two sisters, Sarah Ploehn and Kathryn Ann Oliver, sister-in-law Micheleen Maher, twenty-four nieces and nephews as well as many great nieces and nephews.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, John (Jack) Orr and sister, Mary Eloise Funk, brothers-in-law Decker Ploehn, Richard “Dick” Funk, and Gene Oliver and a sister-in-law Jane Orr. May they rest in peace.
Funeral services and Mass of Christian Burial will be 11 a.m. Thursday, June 3, 2021 at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, Davenport. Burial will be in the Rock Island National Cemetery, Arsenal Island. The family will greet friends from 10 until the time of the Mass Thursday at St. Alphonsus. If you’re not vaccinated, please follow pandemic protocols. The Mass will be livestreamed by clicking this link https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Catholic-Church/St-Alphonsus-Catholic-Church-121325451211216/
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to King’s Harvest Pet Rescue, St. Alphonsus Church or a charity of your choice.
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