Middle Park Fair and Rodeo Pioneers – Jack Orr
August 6, 2009
Jack Orr experienced a true pioneer beginning when he was born to Ted and Sarah Orr on Aug. 22, 1934.The family lived 20 miles north of Kremmling on the Peak Ranch and Sarah gave birth to Jack without the assistance of a doctor. Sarah’s father was Fred DeBerard, who had homesteaded the Peak Ranch, starting approximately in 1910.For the first four years of his schooling, Jack rode a horse four miles to school, a one-room schoolhouse on Muddy Creek. The school had a barn in which the students could keep their horses.Jack has four siblings who are all still living. He has two sisters, Jean Hinman, who lives in Fort Morgan, and Myrtle Orr, who lives in Arizona. He also has two brothers, Ted, who lives in Oregon, and Ron who calls Casper, Wyo., home.When Jack was in the fifth grade, the Orr family moved closer to Kremmling, settling on the Jones Place, known to most today as Grand River Ranch.As was typical on most family ranches, at the Orr place the children were the mainstay of the employee pool. Children were up at dawn, milking cows and doing chores before breakfast. Jack said his father was the alarm clock and one time Jack hit the equivalent of the “snooze button.” Little Jack rolled over to get a few extra winks and the next thing he knew, his father had thrown back the covers, grabbed his heels and yanked him out of bed. It was the last time, Jack wasn’t up at first call.Jack finished his schooling in Kremmling and graduated from Kremmling Union High School in 1952. He married Alta Linke on Sept. 14, 1952, and the two headed off to Colorado A & M (now Colorado State University). Part of Alta’s legacy is that she was the first Middle Park Fair and Rodeo Queen.After one year of school, Jack was needed back at the ranch in Kremmling and he and Alta returned to manage the ranch for about three years. It was at that time that he and Alta accepted an offer to manage the Three-Rivers Ranch in Jackson County. They stayed in North Park for another three years before moving to the Granby area and purchasing part of the ranch that had been owned by Alta’s father.At one point Jack’s parents purchased the Smith Ranch near Green Mountain. Known today as Shadow Creek Ranch, the Smith Ranch was bordered on the south by the Flanigan Ranch and on the North by the Noonan Place (which is part of today’s Blue Valley Ranch.) While maintaining ownership of the Granby ranch, the Orr’s spent some time at the Smith Ranch.The ranch, located south of Kremmling, features some spectacular views as well as steep terrain. Alta says that Kremmling residents called that area “pneumonia gulch” because of the tendency for people from that area to develop the disease.During this time, four children, Claire, Valery, Ed and Fred were born to Jack and Alta. They now have nine grandchildren and two great, grandchildren.It became obvious to Jack that cattle weren’t going to always pay the bills, so he obtained a real estate license. He then spent 30 years selling ranches and farms in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and New Mexico, retiring about five years ago.Jack was president of the Colorado Cattleman’s Association in 1970. At the age of 36, he was the youngest person to ever serve as president of that organization, which has been around longer than Colorado has been a state. During his year as president of CCA, there were 5,400 members, still the highest membership total in that organization’s history.He also served as a lobbyist in the state Capitol for 10-12 years. On legislative issues affecting cattlemen, Orr estimates that he and his partner were successful about 90 percent of the time.One of Jack’s fondest memories is of the stock shows in Denver, Kansas City, Omaha and Chicago. His grandfather Fred DeBerard was known as the master showman when it came to showing Hereford cattle. One year, Fred asked Jack to pick out the 20 best feeder cattle to take to Chicago and the next top 20 to take to Omaha. After a few hours of picking and choosing, Fred came down to survey the choices. As Jack nervously waited for the evaluation, Fred cast his expert eye over the selections. In the end, Fred didn’t change a single choice. Jack went to Chicago and won the grand championship and Fred took the other 20 to Omaha and earned reserve championship honors.Like his fellow honorees, Jack Orr has led a rich and variety-filled life.