Verne Orr was the 14th secretary of the Air Force.
He was born in 1916 in Des Moines, Iowa. He grew up in the Midwest and moved to California with his family about the time he entered high school. He graduated from Pomona (Calif.) College with a bachelor of arts degree in 1937 and earned his master's degree in business administration from Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 1939.
At the outbreak of World War II, Orr was working as a department store management trainee. He was called to active duty in April 1942, as an ensign in the Supply Corps of the U.S. Naval Reserve. During the war he served in both the American and Pacific theaters of operations. The secretary was released from active duty as a lieutenant in November 1945, and was honorably discharged from the Naval Reserve as a lieutenant commander in 1951.
Following his release from active duty, Orr became a partner in his father's new car dealership in Pasadena, Calif. He remained at the dealership until 1960, when he began a two-year affiliation with a family investment business. From 1963 to 1966, he was president of Investors Savings and Loan in Pasadena.
Governor Ronald Reagan invited Orr to serve as California's director of motor vehicles, a position he held until 1969. He served for a brief time as the state's director of general services and in January 1970, began a five-year term as California's director of finance.
From 1975 to 1980, he taught government finance courses at the University of Southern California Graduate School of Public Administration. In 1977, he established a small real estate partnership with his son. He served on the Reagan Presidential Campaign Committee and was deputy director of the Office of the President-elect during the transition.
Orr's civic activities include president of the Pasadena Merchants Association, president of the Kiwanis Club of Pasadena, president of the Family's Services Association of Pasadena, president of the United Way of Los Angeles County and foreman of the Los Angeles County Grand Jury. California Governor Jerry Brown named him a regent of the University of California in 1977.
He has been honored as Phi Beta Kappa, Salvation Army Man of the Year in Pasadena for 1970, and is an honorary member of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, Pasadena Kiwanis Club, Pasadena Rotary Club and Pasadena University Club.