The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Woman's Club names Joyce Orr as citizen of the year


December 6, 2018

Diana Zimmerman

The Cathlamet Woman's Club has named Joyce Orr as citizen of the year.

Joyce Orr may try to fly under the radar as a busy volunteer, but her warm, generous, and fun loving heart will always give her away.

The Cathlamet Woman's Club took notice of all her good work around the community and decided to name her their Citizen of the Year.

Orr spends a lot of her time at the Community Garden at Erickson Park in Cathlamet. She has been involved with the garden since its inception in 2010, and she and Winnie Lowsma have been in charge of it for the last four years.

"We get to use our master gardener knowledge," Orr said. "Winnie is our leader, and I do the personal touch. I get people to sign up for garden plots and she keeps track of the money stuff."

"Of course we watch her," Orr joked.

"It's really a fun thing," Orr said. "Its a social gathering too. There are people that are low income and there are people that are not low income. Just people who want to garden and get their own food that is nutritious."

The garden doesn't just serve the people who use it. Orr and her fellow volunteers have set aside a section of the garden every year to grow food that is donated to local food banks, and they work hard to prepare the beds, plant them, weed, water, and eventually harvest the produce. According to Orr, they've been able to donate as much as 1,700 pounds a year.

Fundraising comes once a year when they organize a plant sale. Otherwise, they rely on donations.

Orr is frequently at the park, working in the garden. She was even there this week when the temperature seemed stuck in the mid-40s. She's busy winterizing the garden, cleaning up the walkways, clearing raised beds, improving the drip system with Winnie, or growing winter crops.

"It's such fun to get up there and work on something and make it look good," Orr said. "We really try to keep it looking nice."

All while she talks, Orr is sure to sprinkle in the names of other volunteers, praising their good qualities, appreciative of everything they bring to her life.

Orr became a master gardener in Oregon in 1983.

"At home I always had a garden," she said. "We had a big garden out in Sandy. I needed to know more, but it's also a social thing. You pay back time for the education you get."

Her studies eventually led to a job with the Multnomah County Extension Office.

She and her husband, Robert, frequently visited her sister in Ocean Park. Robert liked to restore wooden boats and one year they saw there was a Wooden Boat Show at the Elochoman Slough Marina and stopped to check it out.

They bought some property here, and Orr became active in the community, finding a way to cultivate and apply many of her unique talents and interests, including the gardening, while living here.

A long time guitar player, Orr started attending the Wahkiakum Acoustic Guitar Society and made friends while improving her skills.

"Doug (Sheresh) and Rick (Nelson) are so patient," she said.

She is drawn to intricate pieces, and her willingness to play despite a bit of stage fright has begun to pay off. She performed at this year's art festival and some other events, and she's even started singing, much to her friends' delight.

Orr is on the Community Center Advisory Committee. She leads a Friday Brown Bag, where people are welcome to come and chat, as well as a book club.

She's also a member of Wahkiakum Blooms, where she acts as master gardener and advisor, and she participated with them in the Pioneer Community Center's Tidy Up the Town.

In August, you can also find her in Skamokawa, where she volunteers as superintendent of the baking section at the Wahkiakum County Fair.

Another volunteer activity that she is involved in is counting pinnipeds, or seals and sea lions, that travel up the Columbia, as they pass through the Cathlamet area for the Wahkiakum County Marine Resources Committee.

"It sounds busy, but it is so spread out," Orr said of her schedule.

When she's not doing all these things, she's hanging out with Robert and their dog, Trixie. They enjoy bird watching, going out for breakfast, and having good conversations about local politics.

Orr was tickled to receive this honor from the Woman's Club.

"I didn't think anybody noticed," she said. "It's a nice feeling."


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