Dr. William (Bill) Orr
The community lost an amazing person last week – Dr. William (Bill) Orr passed away in his 97th year. He didn’t just live a long life, he lived a life that made a difference to countless families over his lifetime.
Dr. Orr graduated in medicine from University of Toronto in 1943 and enrolled in the army to serve his country. He completed one of the most difficult programs in medicine – the Gallie Surgical Program in Toronto. Instead of staying in the big city, he come back home in 1952 to serve as Chief of Surgery at the Hotel Dieu Hospital and at the St. Catharines General Hospital – at the same time. He was one of the leading emerging surgeons in Canada, and he chose to come to St. Catharines.
To say he left an indelible mark on the lives of many people in our community would be an understatement. He saved lives, he transformed lives, he gave families hope – and when a life couldn’t be saved, families knew that Dr. Orr did everything he could. He cared for his patients – really truly cared for his patients. At his memorial, his family recounted the number of stops to the hospital after hours, on the weekend, after Church – just to check up on a patient. He was a dedicated surgeon.
But that’s only part of what made Dr. Orr special.
Dr. Orr was also the person who saw a need for a child-focused centre in our community that helped children and their families with physical, developmental and communicative disabilities. Bill was the leading force in the creation of the Niagara Children’s Centre. He was the Founding Chair and Medical Director for 30 years. He was the catalyst that built a centre that truly helps children and families through very challenging and difficult conditions. Like his own work as a surgeon, he established a centre that gives children and their families hope, strength and support.
And as a proud Rotarian in St. Catharines for over 65 years, he was the living embodiment of the Rotary motto – Service Above Self. He really did put service of community above himself.
The community has lost an amazing person. Dr. Bill Orr lived a life that made a difference to more people than he, his family or the city will ever really be able to imagine. Thank you Dr. Orr – may you rest in peace, and may your life be remembered for its impact, legacy and as a lasting example for us to follow. Thank you for your service.