R. Thomas (Tom) Orr
February 1, 1938 – June 11, 2018
Tom Orr, loving husband, proud and devoted family man, loyal friend, successful businessman and steadfast community leader died June 11, 2018 after a brief, but consuming battle with cancer. He was 80.
Tom loved his home town of Stratford, Ontario and was passionately involved in community service his entire life. He devoted nearly 20 years to the Stratford Festival as a member of its board of governors, two as vice-chair and another two as chair. He was actively involved in the renovations to the Festival Theatre in 1997, the Avon Theatre in 2002 and the construction of their fourth performance space, the Studio Theatre, as well as the Warehouse and the Festival Archives.
Tom was also past president of Orr Insurance, a business started in 1895 by his grandfather and namesake, R. Thomas Orr, which was passed down through subsequent generations and has never stopped growing. Today, Orr Insurance & Investment is run by Tom’s sons, Jeff and Rick, making it a rare fourth-generation family business.
Daughter Nancy has also continued the Orr tradition of striving for continuous community improvement through her many volunteer roles.
Tom was also a past Chair of the Stratford Parks Board, past president of the Stratford Historical Society, the Stratford & District Chamber of Commerce, the Jaycees, Knox Presbyterian Church Board of Managers, Stratford Lions Club, and the Progressive Conservative Party. He sat on the board of the Stratford Public Library Foundation for many years and was involved in the amalgamation of the YM-YWCA. He sat on the board of the Y, was a founding member of Perth County Crime Stoppers and was a past commander of the Stratford Power & Sail Squadron. He also co-chaired the Stratford General Hospital’s fundraising campaign to build a new emergency department and other health service upgrades raising over $20 million.
In 2000, he received the Chamber of Commerce Millennium Award for his family’s outstanding service in the community for over 100 years. In 2002, Tom was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for his contributions to public life. He was named Stratford’s Citizen of the Year in 2008, and in 2017 he was made a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of Stratford, the highest honour Rotary can bestow upon a person.
Tom’s efforts to preserve local history was also a life-long priority and he was instrumental in finding a permanent home for his grandfather’s extensive historical collection, a collection which now forms the nucleus of the Stratford-Perth Archives.
During the last several years of his life he devoted much of his time to overseeing the production and publication of a book about his grandfather, R. Thomas Orr, whose vision and efforts dramatically and irreversibly shaped the kind of place Stratford is today. Seeing the book come to fruition was a long-held dream come true.
Tom leaves behind his beloved wife of 56 years, Connie (nee Shantz), his adoring children Jeff (Sue), Rick (Jane) and Nancy, plus grandchildren Greg, Nicole, Sydney, Kaylee, Sammie and Spencer.
He is pre-deceased by his parents Thomas Webster Orr and Jean Orr (nee Kastner), and by his in-laws, Ray and Eleanor Shantz (nee Cook).
In February, Tom celebrated his 80th birthday with family and friends, many of whom wrote tributes which were collected and printed in a bound book. They painted a picture of a hard-working, fun-loving instigator with a deep love of family, strong friendships and a tireless reverence for community.
The Funeral service to be held at Knox Presbyterian Church, 142 Ontario St, Stratford on Thursday June 14 at 2 p.m. In lieu of visitation, a Celebration of Life will take place at the Stratford Country Club, 53 Romeo Street North, Stratford, Ontario following the funeral.
As expressions of sympathy, memorial donations may be made to the Stratford General Hospital Foundation, the Stratford Festival or a charity of your choice through the W.G. Young Funeral Home, 430 Huron Street, Stratford. 519.271.7411 www.wgyoungfuneralhome.com
Thursday, June 14, 2018 at 2 p.m.
Knox Presbyterian Church
142 Ontario Street
Celebration of Life Following The Service
Stratford Country Club
53 Romeo Street North,
Stratford General Hospital Foundation
The Stratford Festival
Charity of One’s Choice
Your cheque can be mailed to:
W.G. Young Funeral Home
430 Huron Street
Stratford, Ontario N5A 5T7
Please make cheque payable to the charity you have selected