Craig Orr Death, Obituary – Craig Orr of Smithville, Ontario, a pillar of Fleet Street who passed away at the age of 71, was characterized by his colleagues as “one of the finest men you could ever meet.” This was a recurrent refrain at his funeral. In a number of roles spanning decades, he contributed to the production of major newspapers while keeping his character as a modest and affable man. A well-versed editor said, “He was so relaxed that he was virtually horizontal.” “Yet, he got things done in the most courteous manner possible. Not always is this the case in journalism.”
Orr held several positions at various English newspapers, both in London and the north. He worked his entire life in England, but as a Dumfries-born Scotsman, he insisted on drinking solely the Speyside whiskey of his forebears. Before performing his National Service, he attended Aberdeen University as one of Britain’s youngest graduates in French and Economics at the age of 16. He was discharged in Cyprus and hitchhiked home across Europe, acquiring a mahogany tan that he eagerly anticipated flaunting in Scotland.
But, he was somewhat disheartened to learn that Scotland had experienced one of its warmest summers ever, leaving most people as tanned as he was. His first employment in journalism was at the Evening Telegraph in Blackburn, where he assisted in covering Accrington Stanley’s soccer matches. Eventually he became a sports reporter for the News Chronicle in Manchester. In one instance, Orr persuaded a recently arrived cricketer to bowl him a few balls in the nets; the first delivery he never saw, the second struck him on the head, and the third struck him on the arm.
The player was revealed to be Roy Gilchrist, a very belligerent West Indian Test fast bowler who took no prisoners off the field. Orr relocated farther south to Fleet Street, where he worked for a year at The Guardian before joining the Evening News in 1965, where he served as assistant editor and sports editor for ten years. Then, he worked as the night editor of the Daily Express and as the Express’ northern editor in Manchester.
Afterwards, he worked for You magazine, part of the Mail on Sunday, before moving to the London Evening Standard with its editor, John Leese. There, he oversaw the transition from hot metal to computerized new technology as managing editor. He was also instrumental in the newspaper’s relocation to Kensington. He was pleased with himself for accomplishing this difficult assignment without losing a single edition of the newspaper, especially considering that the Standard’s first day at Kensington coincided with the 1988 Clapham Junction rail accident. That evening, he praised the team and distributed a list of the top pubs near their new location.