is a native of Independence.
One of five children born to Leon E. and Wilma C. Orr, he
is a descendant of E.B. Carpenter, one of the founders of Independence in 1869.
spent most of his
childhood at 1420 N. 10 th, the house his
father built from scratch.
He attended local schools and was a member of the last freshmen class to attend Independence Junior College at Old Nees Hall and a member of the first sophomore class to attend at ICC's next location with the high school on North 10 th street.
Active in football, track and field throughout his
school career, he
was the starting center and middle linebacker at Junior College
and, in his
sophomore year, won the state Junior College
discus event and ran on the winning medley relay team.
He worked a variety of jobs while going to school but credits his time in the oil fields as his direct motivation to pursue additional education and enrolled at Kansas University.
He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Nuclear Engineering in 1958 and began work in North Kansas City, Missouri, for Corn Products Company, as a project engineer in the engineering department.
In 1961, he accepted an offer to train as an Assistant Division Manager with the company and six months later was the Division Manager.
moved to General Foods Company
in 1963 where his
group developed new products and he
patented a new enzyme process to convert starch to dextrose sugar and corn syrup.
He was promoted to the position of Technical Service Manager.
From there he became the Plant Manager for Basic Vegetable Products in Vacaville, California and in 1972, was offered a job as Project Manager to build a new operation for Specialty Brands, Inc. in Chicago.
The project was to build a facility for the Spice Islands warehouse and to produce Marie's Salad Dressings.
When the plant was finished and operations started they asked him was made Plant Manager and later Vice President of Operations.
In 1975, he was offered a job as Division Manager of Besco Products for Bessire & Co. in Louisville, Kentucky but by 1979 he was looking to buy a small company and be his own boss.
After looking at a number of companies, Richard and his partner, Tad Shinkle, bought Marie's Quality Foods Inc. in Woodland, California.
In 2003, Dean Foods made an offer Richard
couldn't refuse - so he
asked for 20% more.
When Dean Foods agreed and Richard
sold the company and joined the ranks of the retired.
bought a house in Independence to be close to family and friends and gradually made the transition from California to Kansas.