Herbert Bernie Orr, MD

Herbert Bernie Orr, MD

Herbert Bernie Orr, MD, died Sunday, November 13, 2022 of cancer. He was 85 years old.

He was one of the last general practitioners. Early in his career, he performed routine surgeries, deliveries and physical exams. Later, as medicine specialized, he focused on internal medicine, primarily family medicine.

While medicine was important to him, his Christian faith was even more important to him. His faith was the foundation of his life; his practice of medicine was a form of ministry. Later in life he also wrote books and pamphlets and became an avid letter writer, all for the purpose of spreading the message of Jesus Christ.

He was born in Chattanooga in 1937, to Melvin Orr and Gladys Chase Orr. He spent his early childhood on the family farm in Polk County, where he grew to love the natural world, especially flowers. After her father’s untimely death when he was 8, the family moved to Cleveland. He graduated from high school in Cleveland, then went to Carson-Newman College on a scholarship, where he studied chemistry. From there he went to medical school at the University of Tennessee in Memphis.

It was at UT-Memphis that he met Patricia Wood. She was coming to college for graduate studies in chemistry, and the Baptist Student Union was looking for volunteers to take her in. It didn’t take long for him to decide he wanted to marry the elegant and charming woman from Mississippi. The couple married in December 1962, just after completing their medical studies.

He completed his internship at Baroness Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. After his internship, he served in the United States Public Health Service, providing medical care through the Indian Health Service on the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota. His first son, Melvin, was born during his service. Upon discharge, he moved to Mobile, where he did a general surgery residency at Mobile General Hospital. After his residency, the family moved to Monte Vista, Colorado, where he worked in private practice and also served as a physician for an American Baptist Health Clinic. His daughter, Rachel, and second son, Flint, were born around this time in Colorado.

The family moved to Mobile in 1977 as members of the Gulf Coast Covenant Church and he went to work for Family Medical. He retired from medicine at age 65. His final years in the profession were difficult, in part due to his own medical issues. More rewarding was his time as a volunteer at the Women’s House of Grace, for which he eventually received a plaque for his years of Christian ministry, love and service.

His passions included music – which anyone who has ever attended a church service with him knows, as he sang very loudly, very flat and with great conviction – and his flowers. When his grandchildren visit, he doesn’t hesitate to share his hibiscus, camellias and petunias with them. He shared his collection of crystals, specimens he had grown himself. They also learned about the opossum he left remains for at the back fence.

His parents predeceased him; and her sisters, Melva and Margarett.

He is survived by his wife, Patricia; his sons, Melvin and Flint; his daughter, Rachel; his sisters, Joyce Bush and Gwen Goforth; several nieces and nephews; and her grandchildren, Walker Orr, Miguel Orr, Olivia Orr, Barra Peak, Eben Peak and Vivian Peak.

Services were held Saturday, November 19, 2022 at Mobile Memorial Gardens Funeral Home, 6040 Three Notch Road, Mobile, AL 36619.

Visitation began at 11 a.m. and continued until the chapel service began at noon.


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