Elaine Orr

Profile Updated: September 2, 2021
Residing In: Springfield, IL USA
Spouse/Partner: James W. Larkin
Web Site: www.elaineorr.com
Occupation: Fiction Writer
Name your favorite teacher(s) at WJ.

Mrs. E. Hall, English

My Story:

I went to the University of Dayton and was married right out of college. I'd graduated after 3 years, so I was only 20; not old enough to make the 'right' decision. We parted amicably. I worked for 12 years for the U.S. GAO, leaving as head of the international liaison office. Good trips, but really long hours. Suddenly I was 31, a GS-15, and thinking I would rather be writing. Also had two ill parents to take care of, so my siblings and I did that for many years. We are great friends. They all have the same weird humor.

The last 8 years in DC area my brother Dan (class of 71) and I had a house in Takoma Park. I really wanted to be near the metro and in a 'town' rather than a suburb. Neither of us had kids, so we sort of had the lead in taking care of our folks. Dad died in our house in 1994, and mom a few years later in Sacred Heart Home in Hyattsville. She had MS, and after many years of caring for her at home, she said "enough is enough" and suggested moving to the nursing home. It was time. She had a lot of rowdy visitors (including Mary Wilpers' mother, who came a lot) and the staff were terrific to her.

Anyway, after we moved my dad to what some of us irreverently call "his sandbox in Arlington Cemetery," my brother Dan and I decided we wanted 'cleaner, cheaper, safer, quieter' and we moved to Ottumwa, Iowa together. Much as I LOVED Takoma Park, it had gotten so that I was not comfortable walking home from the metro after dark. Got home one day and a neighbor said kids had been arrested in front of the house for firing a gun. The police said the boys saw nothing wrong with it, they were only aiming at cats. My cats!!

We thought first of moving to Iowa City (great writing program, I've taken some classes), but housing costs were more like DC, and we didn't feel like spending that much. I have so many wonderful friends in Ottumwa. I went to a St. Patrick's Day party in what the guys call "the Sloth Club." Wives got tired of them playing poker in various homes, so they've rented space around town for years. I also joined a great book club and the Lions Club. I learned a lot about childhood vision problems and was pleased to volunteer on some related activities.

Even after moving to Iowa, I continued to do a lot of work for the National Academy of Public Administration, a congressionally chartered nonprofit that does evaluation work for Congress. Finally found an interesting job in Iowa, working for now-former Congressman Jim Leach. He is a moderate R and I'm a D, and I never took so much grief in my life (from my friends and family) as when I took that job. I also now own elephant jewelry, stuffed animals, etc., which were gifts from DC friends when I took the job. Mr. Leach was one of four Rs in the House to vote against the Iraq War, and later endorsed President Obama, which was one reason he lost the election in 2006. I also worked for his successor (which rarely happens, I was lucky), Dave Loebsack. Very busy job; I worked out of my house and 'covered' six counties for him. It was a public service position, not a political one, and I got pretty good at wading through red tape to help the congressman's constituents. I also gained an even stronger appreciation for governing sparsely-populated counties in a declining economy. And floods...Iowa had major floods in my part of the state in 2008 and 2010.

When I left the congressional position in 2011 (because my husband took a job in Muncie, IN) I turned to writing full-time. I had worked on a couple of pieces of fiction and was able to finish them (light mysteries) later in 2011. I've now (2018) written eleven books in the Jolie Gentil series, three in the River's Edge series, and other fiction and nonfiction. It's hard work and you have to focus a lot on marketing, but I love it. I also made great friends in Muncie, and joined the Unitarian Universalist Church there. I'll stay a UU, I like the community.

In 2013, we moved to Springfield, IL (also for my husband's job), where I've been very active in the UU congregation -- and keep writing. Indiana had a lot more organizations and activities for writers, so I go back to Indianapolis a several times a year. Have had hip and knee replacements since moving here. Have begun doing a lot of swimming.

I come to Maryland a couple of times a year, often by train. Two of my nieces now have kids, and that's a lot of fun.

My sister's kids all went to WJ. Cortny Witchie (class of 1998) was cheerleader captain. She had a blast. Whitney Fisher (class of 2007) is a wonderful artist photographer, and is an exceptional student. Also very funny. Jack Fisher (class of 2009) is the friendliest guy you could meet, and and was on the football and baseball teams and also did wrestling. He joined the Air Force after graduation in the fall, which was a new experience for my family. Dad was in WWII, but that's been it for us. Jack returned from Osan AFB in South Korea, which is only 20 miles from the N. Korean border. After the North Korean posturing (and worse) it's great that he's back in the US.

My brother Dan moved back to Maryland to help our youngest brother, Grant (Woodward, 79) in his growing business. Grant and his wife have 14 and 12-year olds, Olivia and Tony. Everyone thinks I'm their grandmother.

I married Jim Larkin in late 2002. We met at a writers' group. Great guy, does sleep studies (polysomnagraphic technologist, but sleep studies is easier). On one our first dates he was talking about his favorite modern poets and said, "The best one is this songwriter, you've probably never heard of him, Nils Lofgren." I had to dig out my high school yearbook before he would believe I'd heard of Nils when he was with Gren!

Have had both knees replaced (one twice) and am probably in better shape now than when in high school. However, I've started crushing vertebrae, a hobby I do not recommend. The one in 2013 was lifting my Kitchen Aid mixer. I got rid of that sucker and bought one that is mostly plastic, as opposed to steel. Luckily I had done lots of rehab prior to this, so I know that if you keep at it and work through (some) pain, you can be whole again. In January 2014 I was able to join a fitness club in our new town (Springfield, IL) and am walking a mile a day. Will soon be back up to three miles.

The current decade has been a good one for publishing books. The most popular is the Jolie Gentil Cozy Mystery series. The series often referred to the main characters' time in high school, so I finally wrote a prequel. I dedicated that book to the Walter Johnson Class of 1969 -- good times as students, friends as alumni. Jamie Himel won a copy in the raffle at the 45th reunion. That was fun.

I'm working on a new series, the River's Edge mystery series. A publisher in the DC area has read a few chapters and is waiting for the full book. No guarantee it will be accepted there, but it would be great to have an excuse to get to Maryland a lot.

I keep writing and am thankful to have such great family and friends.

School Story:

I loved the school plays and such, but could never be in them because I worked after school. So when we did the senior show, I had a blast being in that. All I really remember is the girls dressed as boys and vice-versa, and Jamie Himel wore coconuts. (I think we sang "I'm gonna wash that man right out of my hair" from South Pacific.) Somebody aimed tomatoes at Jamie's unusual appendages. I think Bobbi Clodfelter took the brunt of it.

Elaine's Latest Interactions

Elaine Orr posted a message.
Sep 02, 2021 at 6:41 AM

Vagrant thought. I noticed how many August birthdays there were. I wonder what our parents were doing in November 1950. I guess we know one thing...

Elaine Orr has left an In Memory comment for her Profile.
Aug 20, 2021 at 9:06 PM

Such a shame. We went to Holy Redeemer Grade School together, as well as WJ, and had a great conversation at the 45th reunion. She had a great sense of humor.

Elaine L. Orr

Elaine Orr has a birthday today.
Aug 14, 2021 at 4:33 AM
Elaine Orr has left an In Memory comment for her Profile.
Apr 23, 2021 at 9:59 PM

I remember Jim as a sweet guy and am glad, Carol, that you have a son you both loved.


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Aug 14, 2020 at 4:33 AM
Elaine Orr has a birthday today.
Aug 14, 2019 at 4:33 AM
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Feb 02, 2019 at 3:56 PM

Posted on: Feb 02, 2019 at 3:56 PM

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Jan 31, 2019 at 2:26 PM
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Dec 08, 2018 at 7:23 PM
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Dec 08, 2018 at 7:22 PM
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Dec 04, 2018 at 3:45 PM
Elaine Orr posted a message.
Nov 04, 2018 at 9:38 PM

Hope you had a good birthday. Noted your daughter looks to have recently turned 21. Big transition!

Elaine Orr has a birthday today.
Aug 14, 2018 at 4:33 AM
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Jun 15, 2018 at 11:24 AM
Elaine Orr posted a message.
Nov 03, 2017 at 5:44 PM

Hope you have a great day. I won't say you're old, because you could come back at me. :)

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Aug 14, 2017 at 10:05 AM

Posted on: Aug 14, 2017 at 4:33 AM

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Jul 08, 2017 at 12:29 AM
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Jul 08, 2017 at 11:29 AM

Posted on: Jul 07, 2017 at 2:16 PM

Horacio - Thanks for asking about my books. I hadn't logged on for a while, so I missed your note a couple of months ago. My books are available online, but only a few local bookstores carry them. If you are still in Mexico, you can buy through Amazon there. I can bring you some to the next reunion. :) Here's a link to one on Amazon Mexico. If you put my name in on the site, more come up.I really appreciate that you ask.

Elaine Orr posted a message. New comment added.
Jan 01, 2017 at 4:03 PM

Posted on: Jan 01, 2017 at 2:28 PM

Thanks for the New Year's wishes. Enjoy your scuba diving!

Posted: Dec 24, 2016 at 9:35 AM
Elaine Orr and Theresa Foster at the 45th Reunion. We went to grade school together and were in Brownies. First reunion for Theresa, who lives in CA.
Posted: Dec 24, 2016 at 9:35 AM
Elaine with brother Dan (WJ 71), who walked me down the aisle for my 2002 wedding to Jim Larkin. We got married in Wayne and Carol's home in Olney -- they are troopers.
Posted: Dec 24, 2016 at 9:35 AM
With three WJ grads from my sister Diane's family (she is Woodward '75). Cortney Witchie, Jack and Whitney Fisher with Aunt E at brother Wayne and sister-in-law Carol's 30th anniversary party at St. Raphael's parish hall, Rockville, May 2009.
Posted: Dec 24, 2016 at 9:35 AM
Sister-in-law Angie Orr (Churchill '89)thinks my dance with Grant and Angie's son Tony is funny -- I think it's great. Two new knees!!
Posted: Dec 24, 2016 at 9:35 AM
May 2009 with Wayne and Carol and daughters Katie and Kriste at W&C's 30th anniversary party. The guy in the back is brother Grant (Woodward 79) and the cutie pie in the front is Grant and Angie's daughter Olivia Grace Orr.
Posted: Dec 24, 2016 at 9:35 AM
Jim and Elaine on wedding day with former boss John Heller from GAO.