Sunday, January 26, 2003


Annie R. Orr, founded charter school

By Karen Andrew
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Educator Annie Rodgers Orr died Tuesday at her home in College Hill. She was 71.

Born in Brundidge, Ala., to Vina and Hilliard Rodgers, she moved to the Cincinnati area when she was 10.

She graduated from Lockland Wayne High School in 1950 and earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Central State University in 1954.

She later attended the University of Cincinnati, where she obtained a master's degree in counseling and administration in 1969 and a doctorate in staff development in 1986.

Mrs. Orr worked in Cincinnati Public Schools from 1959-1992. She taught second grade for seven years at Cummins Elementary School and remedial reading for six years at Garfield Elementary school.

In 1970, she taught at St. Pius School and served as a consultant to Xavier University in 1971, where she started the graduate Science Curriculum Improvement Study program.

In 1972, she became a guidance counselor at Hughes High School and in 1979 the assistant principal at Merry Junior High.

She retired in 1992 as principal of Eastern Hills Elementary School.

One of her daughters, Renee Bessick of Mansfield, Ohio, said her mother's house was always a place where kids could visit.

"She was big on planning," said Mrs. Bessick. "She encouraged kids to go to college. She got an awful lot of scholarships for them while at Hughes."

Mrs. Bessick said her mother also helped with the small things that were needed, such as books for college.

"She was always gracious and giving," she added. "The thing that amazed me was her boundless energy - she was always able to perk up."

Mrs. Orr was a member of Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church.

After retirement from CPS, she founded Lincoln Heights Christian Academy, a charter school housing kindergarten through fifth grade.

She also served as troop leader of Boy Scout unit 772 at Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist and at the age of 70, went to camp with the Boy Scouts.

"We had her 70th birthday party on Sunday and the next day she went away to the Boy Scout camp," said one of her granddaughters, Robyn Melton of Anderson, Ind.

"You know, to sleep in the woods. She was pretty dedicated."

She was a member of the undergraduate Beta Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority for more than 50 years and the graduate Sigma Omega chapter.

In addition to her daughter and granddaughter, survivors include her husband of 50 years, William Emil Orr; another daughter, Jennifer Williams of Forest Park; a son, William Jr. of Fairfax; four sisters, Lula Bridgeman of Woodlawn, Marlene Ogelesby of Winton Place, Mary Chenault of Avondale and Amelia Smith of West Chester; 10 other grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Services were held.

Memorials: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 17194, Cincinnati, OH 45217-0194.

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