Henry Porter Orr
Dr. Henry P. Orr was a distinguished professor of horticulture at Auburn from 1947 until his retirement in 1981 after 34 years of distinguished service. Orr, a native of Opelika, Alabama, received his B.S. degree from Auburn University (then API) in 1942. He did advanced study at The Ohio State University, receiving an M.S. in 1947 and Ph.D. in 1962.
Orr believed that his students needed to complement their classroom education with hands-on experience in the horticulture industry and landscape architecture profession across the South. His passion for field trips exposed students to a variety of career options and encouraged a diversity of thought, thus inspiring students to pursue their personal interests. Ivy, his home in Opelika, was a hub of horticultural activity and entertainment for the students and alumni of Auburn. The grounds of Ivy were also used to support Dr. Orr’s teaching efforts and the plant collection on the campus at Auburn during his 30-plus years as a professor.
Orr was a noted plantsman, registered landscape architect, floral designer, scholar in ornamental plant identification, a greenhouse system developer, and a respected teacher, publisher, and author. He was long-time secretary of the AU Arboretum Committee and was active on the committee until his retirement. The Henry P. Orr Vinery, dedicated in 1983 on the Auburn Campus, continues to be an instructional area for students and an enjoyable and relaxing area for the community at large.
Long after his death in 1995, Orr’s legacy is in the success of his students, many of whom are now business leaders, business owners, teachers, professors and designers in the profession. Through his many academic, humanitarian, and social efforts, Dr. Orr committed much of his life to his students not only while they were at Auburn but well beyond their graduation. In 2000, an endowment was established in Orr’s memory by former students and colleagues to provide funds to support undergraduate horticultural education beyond the classroom and to involve students directly in reallife industry operations and business issues.
As Dr. Orr put it, “You should go see, not just talk about the field of horticulture.”