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Obituary: Trudy Tremper Orr

On September 16, following several months of illness, Trudy Tremper Orr died. She was 87. She was surrounded by loving family throughout her illness and at the time of her passing.

Trudy was born in Columbus, Ohio, on January 1, 1934, the only child of Tom and Gertrude Lowery. Her father was a salesman for Peter Paul Candy. Her mother was a nurse. She was raised primarily in Indianapolis, where she competed in figure skating, life-guarded at The Riviera Club and graduated from Broad Ripple High School in 1951.

She attended Michigan State University where she met Paul Orr. The two were wed on February 6, 1953, both 19 years old. Paul continued his undergraduate studies while she took a job with Bell Telephone in its yellow pages department. Later that year, they moved to Detroit, Michigan, where Mr. Orr began medical school and she transferred to the local Bell office. While her husband was in his third year of medical school, Mrs. Orr gave birth to their first child, Calvin. Upon Mr. Orr’s graduation from medical school in 1957, the family moved to Toledo, Ohio, where he began his residency. While living there, Mrs. Orr gave birth to identical twins: Carl and Mark.

In 1958, after finishing his residency, the newly minted “doc” Orr entered the army under a doctor draft in effect at the time. There followed a series of assignments in San Antonio, Texas; Taiwan; and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The longest assignment was in Taiwan, where the Orrs gained an appreciation for the Far East and formed deep friendships among the military community stationed there. Owing to tensions between Taiwan and mainland China, Dr. Orr initially had to go to Taiwan by himself while Mrs. Orr and their boys stayed in Indianapolis. After six months of being half a world apart, the army finally allowed families to join servicemen in Taiwan, and the Orr family was reunited.

In 1961, after Dr. Orr was discharged from the army, the young family moved to Southern California and settled in Claremont. While living there, Mrs. Orr gave birth to their second set of twins, this time fraternal: Phillip and Donald. This was at a time when medically assisted conception did not exist, and it was unusual for a woman to have one multiple-birth pregnancy, let alone two. She always knew before her doctors that she was carrying twins, a fact she repeated many times through her life. There is medical science, and then there is a mother’s intuition.

At the ripe young age of 28, Mrs. Orr already had five sons. She sometimes said that she and Dr. Orr were the youngest couple in town with the most children. They were also bursting out of their starter home in Claremont. In 1965, the family moved a few miles away to Upland, where they settled in a large 1920s Spanish-style grove home surrounded by acres of lemon groves. It was there, primarily, the couple raised their five sons.

Mrs. Orr loved being a mother and was immensely proud of her sons. She supported them in all of their activities, including building forts and treehouses in rural Upland, camping out in those same forts and treehouses, raising cats and dogs and ducks and rabbits, planting gardens, building and flying model airplanes, building go-karts, taking art and music lessons, swimming, playing baseball and soccer, competing in track and cross-country and cycling, and much, much more. She served as an unofficial team mother for many Upland High School track and cross-country teams, bringing post-meet refreshments and cheering herself hoarse, not just for her sons, but for the entire team. Even the coolest teenage boys on those teams could not help but love her.

Everyone knows that being a mother of five boys is not easy. But Mrs. Orr kept her boys in line with the same loud voice she used to cheer track and cross-country teams (and the occasional warning, “Wait until your father gets home”). Even more, she loved her boys to her core and they knew it. She never wished for a different life.

Along with pouring herself into the lives of her five sons, Mrs. Orr supported her husband in his busy medical practice and his other endeavors. She always delayed dinner for him because she wanted the family to have dinner together. And she insisted that everyone relax, eat slowly, and talk to each other. To reinforce her wishes, she made herself the gatekeeper for second helpings, which she decreed no one could have until the last person (usually her) had finished their first helping.

The couple took their boys to a variety of vacation destinations, but one quickly became the favorite: Laguna Beach. Mrs. Orr loved the charming, laid-back seaside town, and she grew to love it even more for the 50-plus years of memorable family vacations enjoyed there. The last such vacation was just two months before her passing.

In 1989, their sons having long since left the nest, the Orrs sold their large Upland house and moved into two houses: a house of their dreams in Dana Point and a smaller townhouse in Upland. In 1997, they moved back to the Inland Empire and settled in a lovely home in La Verne at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains, where Mrs. Orr lived the rest of her years.

In 2003, the Orrs celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. In addition to enjoying a lavish party thrown by their sons, they took a six-week round-the-world vacation. Mrs. Orr loved Africa more than any other place they visited, and she and Dr. Orr later returned there. In 2013, the couple celebrated their diamond anniversary. At the time of Mrs. Orr’s passing, they had been married a remarkable 68 years.

“Trudy lived a selfless life, always supportive of her husband and sons, always proud of them, and always putting them ahead of herself,” her family shared. “She will be remembered as a vibrant woman with an infectious laugh and a smile that lit up the room. She was adventurous and enjoyed experiences ranging from camping to journeying on safari in Kenya to riding in an Indy 500 race car. She also loved her morning coffee (without which she found it hard to love anything else), fancy tea outings, delicious steak, chilled Rombauer Chardonnay and Laguna Beach. Trudy loved to dance; she and Paul met at a school dance at Michigan State and continued to grace the dance floor every chance they got. Trudy was a devoted and loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She will always be dearly loved and cherished. And she will be deeply missed.”

Mrs. Orr is survived by her husband; five sons and five daughters-in-law; 15 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, October 9, at Claremont Presbyterian Church, 1111 N. Mountain Ave., Claremont, CA.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, please send memorial contributions to the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center Foundation at https://www.pvhmc.org/giving-support/, or by check to 1798 N. Garey Ave., Pomona, CA 91767.

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