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‘More than a boss,’ Orr recalled as a community asset, a good man | News, Sports, Jobs


Joseph H. Orr Jr. is remembered as a leader in the local construction industry.

Orr, 92, of Duncansville, died at his home on Sunday.

A 1947 graduate of Altoona High School and a 1952 graduate of Lehigh University with a degree in civil engineering, Orr joined his father in the family construction business JC Orr and Son in 1955 and ran the business in as president for 30 years.

Under his leadership, many buildings in the area were constructed, including the Altoona Mercy Hospital, the Bell Telephone Building, the Gable Parking Lot, the 11th Avenue Parking Lot, the Chapel and Smith Building at Penn State Altoona, and the Eisenhower Auditorium, the Walker Building, Ag Arena and the Rec Hall Annex at Penn State University Park.

“My father successfully led our business into the 21st century,” said his son, Joseph H. Orr III, CEO/Chairman of JC Orr and Son.

“All the buildings that were constructed during his tenure are a testament to his leadership and vision,” he said. “He was a compassionate leader, and the hundreds of people he employed would agree.”

Others in the construction industry remember Orr well.

“I competed against him for years” said Ralph J. Albarano, owner of Ralph J. Albarano and Sons, Duncansville.

“JC Orr and Son was a major player in the construction industry in central Pennsylvania. He was a good gentleman from the few times I met him at the opening of bids,” said Albarano.

Maurice Lawruk Sr., founder of Lawruk Builders Inc., said Orr was highly respected and a good man.

“He was an asset to our community and we will miss him dearly,” Lawruk added.

Longtime employee Tim Gutshall, now the company’s project manager and general superintendent, was hired by Orr in 1995.

“Man what a guy, he was more than a boss, he was a mentor and a good friend” said Gutshall. “He treated me like family. He was a good man, he took care of his people during the lean times; he was a good guy in every way.

Orr has been involved in a number of community organizations over the years, serving as Chairman of the YMCA of Altoona Board of Directors, the Lakemont Park Citizens Advisory Council, the Keystone Contractors Association and the Board of Fifth Avenue Methodist Church. Orr and his family have also been big supporters of model railroading over the years.

Lee Hite, former CEO of The Hite Co., said Orr was always very fair in his dealings.

“He has always tried to promote buying local”, Hit said.

PennCrest Bank President and CEO William Ritenour said that while the community mourns Orr’s passing, they also celebrate his wonderful achievement.

“Sir. Orr’s legacy at PennCrest Bank is that of a difference maker,” said Ritenour.

Orr is survived by five children: Joe, Jeni, Jeigh, Jessica and Juliet; nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 814-946-7467.

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