Lee Orr

Lee Orr
Track & Field

A native of Saskatchewan, Canada, three-year-old Lee Orr moved with his family to Monroe in 1920. His father ran a watchmaking business and his grandfather owned a carpentry business.

In 1935 he won two state track titles – the record for the 220-yard dash. The 1935 win in the 220 was his third straight title in that event.

As a member of the Washington State College track & field team, he won eight Pacific Coast Northern Division titles and was the 1940 NCAA champion in the 440-yard run. Orr and his brother, Jack, ran with the Cougar relay team that set a world record in early June 1937. The Cougar quartet raced the mile in three minutes and 12.3 seconds. In 1978, Lee was inducted into the Washington State Sports Hall of Fame.

Representing Canada in the 1936 Olympics, he became the first Monroe representative to participate in an Olympic event qualifying for the 100 and 200-meter dashes plus the 4×100 meter relay. In Berlin, Orr placed fifth in the 200-meter dash, which was won by Jesse Owens. In the quarterfinals of the 200 meter he equaled the world record when he ran the distance in 21.2 seconds. At the 1938 Empire Games he won the gold medal with the Canadian team in the 4×440 yard relay.

Orr later returned Europe under different circumstances. A Canadian, Orr became a United States citizen and was drafted in the Army. Private First Class Orr performed on the ground once again in Europe, this time serving the U.S. in World War II with the Cannon Company (105 howitzers). In 1945, he was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, for duty in ground combat against enemy forces.

Lee Orr passed away July 23, 2009 at the age of 92.


Lee Orr