Remembering the life of Larry Orr

Celebration of life today at North Saanich' Panorama Recreation Centre.

Larry Orr is being remembered this week, for more than just his volunteer hours and dedication to the hockey community on the Saanich Peninsula.

On Thursday, starting at 1 p.m., there will be a celebration of life for Orr, who died earlier this month after an illness. It takes place at Panorama Recreation Centre’s Arena B, where a memorial banner will be hung in his honour.

Jason Fletcher grew up knowing Orr and most recently the pair worked together on winning the Kraft Hockeyville title in North Saanich. Fletcher says Orr was an example he looked to and based his own community work on Orr’s dedication.

“I saw him giving back and I’ve tried to live my life in a similar fashion,” Fletcher said. “He was an example of someone who did the work, and didn’t just talk about it.”

Thursday’s celebration will focus on that work ethic.

Wayne Ruffle, chair of the Peninsula Recreation Commission and a long time friend of Orr’s, said some of his earliest memories of working with Orr on local projects was at the Rotary Park Field of Dreams baseball diamonds.

“Larry was a big part of that,” Ruffle said. “And it was my first time working with him at that time.”

It sparked a friendship that lasted up until Orr’s death. Ruffle, too, called the man an example to follow in the community.

Fletcher said he got to know who Orr was some 30 years ago when he was 14 and playing in a golf tournament, named in memory of Orr’s father, John E. Orr. And while Fletcher said Orr will probably be remembered most for his skate sharpening business and presence around the hockey rink, his volunteer work was mostly about children.

Fletcher said Orr made sure kids who wanted to play — baseball, hockey, golf or figure skating — had the opportunity to do so, if he could help it.

“Larry’s impact, although it’s being highlighted at the end of his life, is broad. He had a big impact on this community.”

Thursday will welcome his wife, Sandy and son Derek. Derek will say a few words about his father and other community members will offer their brief remembrances of Orr between 1 and 2 p.m. in the arena. There will also be photos and video of Orr from years past and present.

Once the banner is raised, Fletcher said people will be encouraged to move over to Panorama’s tennis facility. There, a memorial wall will be put up for people to leave their stories about Orr. He said it’s a chance for people to share their memories of  Orr.  He expects this part of the event will start at around 2 p.m. and last until people want to call it a day.

Fletcher added he hopes organizers can compile those stories into something they can incorporate into the arena upgrades when Panorama uses the Hockeyville cash prize — to further remember Orr.