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Richard T. Orr | 1972

Noted agricultural journalist and longtime "In the Midwest" columnist for the Chicago Tribune.

1915-1998 | Artist: Eugene Alexander Montgomery (1905-2001)

Impact & Accomplishments

Agricultural journalist Richard Orr, a native of Springfield, Illinois, earned his degree in journalism from the University of Illinois in 1937.

An accomplished saxophonist, he toured the U. S. with a band before settling down, in 1941, to a job with the City News Bureau in Chicago. A year later, he joined the staff of the Chicago Tribune. During World War II, Orr was a sergeant on the army’s public relations staff and was press secretary for band leader Glenn Miller’s Army Air Force Band. Miller was listed as missing in action, when his plane disappeared en route to Paris in 1944.

Orr returned to the Tribune in 1946 and was recruited to be farm editor in 1949. An ever-present journalist, covering the Illinois State Fair for decades, the fair board named its poultry building and rooster crowing contest for him. Richard Orr was honored with the Edward Scott Beck Award, the J. S. Russell Memorial Award, the Oscar in Agriculture Award, and the Pure Milk Association award.

He was president of the Chicago Press Club and the Newspaper Farm Editors of America and chairman of the Chicago Press Veterans Association.

Did You Know?

Orr began his Tribune career as a business writer but was recruited to become the farm editor in May 1949 by publisher Col. Robert R. McCormick.
"No one wanted the job, but he took it on," said Jon Van, the Tribune's technology writer. "He was always getting memos from the Colonel, who would ask him to write columns about odd things . . . at one point the Colonel was in London and told him, `I just got a double-yolked egg, do a story on double-yolked eggs.' "

The Poultry building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield was named for Richard Orr in 1990.

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