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Blues guitarist's wife managed his career

| Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, 2:21 a.m.
Nancy H. Orr, 59, of Pittsburgh, died Dec. 22, 2013.

Whether she was arranging tour dates for her husband, sailing the Atlantic or battling cancer, Nancy Orr dealt with life head-on.

Nancy Helen Orr, 59, of Salem died on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, at home, with her family and friends at her side. Mrs. Orr battled appendiceal cancer for two years.

“She had a great deal of determination, whether it was playing sports or working or even fighting cancer,” said her brother Tom Orr. “She just did what she could.”

Mrs. Orr worked at Orrco in Salem and invested in real estate. She managed her husband's career, internationally renowned blues guitarist Ernie Hawkins.

“She liked to travel with her husband and father and see different places,” Tom Orr said. “She had a great sense of adventure.”

The couple met when Mrs. Orr attended a concert Hawkins was playing.

Tom Orr said his sister liked music and had gone to the concert to hear something new.

Mrs. Orr managed her husband's career, taking care of organizing bookings and travel arrangements.

“He did the music, but she did everything else,” Tom Orr said. “That's what she was good at.”

Mrs. Orr went on many sailing trips with her father, Thomas Orr, in the Caribbean and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean several times with him. Her husband's career took them to many countries in addition to cities in the United States.

“She liked to hike and explore,” Tom Orr said. “She did something different everywhere she went.”

Mrs. Orr kept a journal online about her struggle with appendiceal cancer, hoping to raise awareness of the rare disease. Tom Orr said his sister was hoping to inspire research into that type of cancer.

“In turn, she got a lot of support from people,” he said.

Mrs. Orr was an avid gardener. She was especially fond of black raspberries from the berry patch.

She is survived by her husband, Ernie Hawkins; her father, Thomas Orr; sister-in-law, Nancy Hawkins; and her siblings, Christine Orr and her husband, Terry Watson, Thomas Orr and his wife, Rosemary, and Keith Orr and his wife, RoseAnn. She is also survived by her nephew Jason and nieces Jane, Kelly (Matt), Erin, Chelsea, Sara and Kathleen.

Friends will be received from 10 until 11 a.m. Thursday in Congruity Presbyterian Church, New Alexandria, with services beginning at 11 a.m. Funeral arrangements by Bash-Nied Funeral Home, 152 Abbe Place, Delmont.

Kate Wilcox is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or kwilcox@tribweb.com.

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