Obituary: Nancy Helen Orr / Lived life full of adventure

June 2, 1954 - Dec. 22, 2013

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Nancy Helen Orr of Point Breeze lived a life of passion, filled with adventure, travel, music and dedicated work, all with family and friends.

And for nearly the past two years, after being diagnosed with appendix cancer, a relatively rare form of the disease, she was passionate about blogging on caringbridge.org (password: cancer) about the highs and lows of her battle.

"She wanted people to know what it was like to have cancer," said her brother, Keith Orr of Greensburg. "She didn't hold anything back.

"Nancy had a plainspoken, outspoken personality and that was one of the things all of us loved about her. There was no facade. She spoke her mind. She knew it was terminal but thought she had more time than she did."

Ms. Orr died Sunday at home, surrounded by family and friends. She was 59.

Keith Orr said that while his sister's life was cut short, she lived the years she had to the fullest. "She had a real taste for adventure. She was always like that."

She made numerous trips with her father, Thomas Orr of Greensburg, on his 38-foot sailboat, sailing to the Caribbean and even across the Atlantic Ocean several times.

On her own, she traveled to Greece, Israel and Mexico.

With her husband, Ernie Hawkins, the internationally renowned blues guitarist, she traveled on tour through Europe and the United States.

"She was his agent and arranged his gigs, bookings, promotion. She was very passionate about his music and promoting him."

But of all her destinations, a cabin in Canada owned by her late mother, Nancy Wolff Orr, was probably her favorite place, her family said.

A native of Salem, Nancy Helen Orr graduated first in her class at Greensburg-Salem High School and worked as financial secretary for her family's company, Orrco, which manufactures precision machine parts.

In addition to her husband, father and brother, she is survived by a sister, Christine Orr of Cleveland; another brother, Thomas Orr, also of Greensburg; and nieces and nephews.

Friends will be received today at 10 a.m. at Bash-Nied Funeral Home, 152 Abbe Place, Delmont. Services will be at 11 a.m. at Congruity Presbyterian Church in New Alexandria. Memorial contributions may be made to Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, 2000 Technology Drive, Suite 300, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. Please specify that the contribution is for Frick Park.

Michael A. Fuoco: mfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1968.


First Published December 26, 2013 12:09 AM


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