April 15, 1971 to March 23, 1999
Allen William Orr was a healthy and happy young man who was enjoying a successful family life and career as an educator. He was born and raised in Deming, NM and attended college at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, NM where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1993 and his master’s degree in 1999.
On September 4, 1993 he married Erica Nicole Kuhn who was also a graduate of ENMU and an educator. That year they both began teaching school at Morton Elementary School in Morton, TX.
Allen taught 5th grade and Nikki taught kindergarten. They lived and worked there for 5 years before moving to Texhoma, TX in the summer of 1998.
At their new positions in Texhoma, Allen was the principal at Texhoma Elementary School and Nikki was in charge of developing their new preschool program.
Allen loved his job as an administrator, and in the spring as the superintendent of the school district moved to another job, the school board appointed Allen to serve as interim superintendent for the remainder of the school year. He was planning to apply to keep that position.
Allen was the type of person who enjoyed people and had fun with whatever he was doing. He was always a joy to be around! He grew up loving music and liked to play his saxophone and the piano.
He and Nikki were quite the travelers and have traveled all around the country. They were known for surprise trips, such as the time they drove for 24 hours from Morton, TX to get to our Mom’s reunion in Nashville, TN and join the family that was there for a day before heading back to their home.
They were also the world’s greatest coffee connoisseurs and big fans of Starbucks coffee. Every summer our family gathers in the New Mexico mountains at Ruidoso and Allen and Nikki made sure we visited all the gourmet coffee shops.
Allen also was the first to start the rounds of family card games at any gatherings. Allen loved his wife and family very much and I believe it is safe to say he lived life to its fullest.
In March, Allen and Nikki traveled to San Francisco, CA to attend some educational meetings for a week. Allen had a cold early in the week, but toward the end of the week was feeling better. He and his wife were even able to do a little sightseeing on Friday.
Then early Saturday morning on March 20, about 4am, his eardrum burst and they took a cab to the nearest hospital. By 6am his condition was serious and doctors began treating him. He had bacterial meningitis and the infection was diagnosed as beta hemolytic streptococcus.
By about 8am Allen had slipped into a coma. Doctors said the bacteria was fast acting and spread rapidly through his body once his eardrum ruptured. Our parents flew to San Francisco and stayed at the hospital with Nikki.
Allen did not respond to any treatment and he was being kept alive on life support. After three days of tests and waiting, on Tuesday, March 23, it was decided to remove the life support and let his body die. Our Allen, who we all love, had gone on to Heaven. It is so hard to believe that he could be taken from us so quickly.
Nikki had signed the papers to approve the transplant of Allen’s organs and the doctors were able to find recipients for his heart and kidneys. Each of the three recipients had been very ill and with Allen’s gift of life are now reported to be doing well. One day we may be able to meet the recipients and their families. Allen survived.
Our family gathered with relatives and friends in Texhoma for Allen’s memorial service on March 27. Nikki had planned a beautiful and meaningful service which was a wonderful tribute to Allen.
The town of Texhoma and Allen and Nikki’s church home at First Christian Church have shown tremendous support during this time and it was incredible to see how well known and loved Allen was in his community.
There have been poems and songs written about him, trees planted in his memory, a scholarship fund started in his honor, and many more loving memorials. Included below are a poem written about Allen which a student read at his memorial service and an article which appeared in the newspaper about his scholarship.
These give just a glimpse to what a wonderful, talented and happy person Allen was. He was a loving husband, son, and brother, and a friend to many.
We have so much to celebrate about Allen’s life, but there will always be an empty place in our family where he is supposed to be.
Allen, we love you and miss you and will rejoice to see you again in Heaven! You ran a good race my brother, and will always be an inspiration to us all!
Orr was an organ donor, a 52-year-old Arizona father of three receiving his heart, and a 40-year-old and a 42-year-old receiving his kidneys. Vicki Chavez and other organizers hope the fund will be large enough that the interest from it will allow the scholarship to be a yearly grant. “It is fitting,” she said, “that the short but full life of this educator be remembered each year, this scholarship is to be granted to someone aspiring to become an educator.”