James (Jim) Richard O’Rorke, 90, of Red Feather Lakes passed away on Jan. 6, 2013. Jim was born in Washington, Penn. on Sept. 27, 1922.
He was a prisoner of war in Japan during World War II and survived the Bataan Death March.
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O’Rorke served with the U.S. Army Signal Corp (Sergeant Major) in the Philipines, survived the death march and POW experience in Japan to escape two weeks before the end of the War. He was personally acknowledged by Gen. Douglas MacArthur at the war’s end at the Yokohama Grand Hotel in Japan.
After four years in Japanese prison camps, he recuperated at Fitzsimons hospital in Denver and then established himself in Red Feather Lakes, where he built a cabin lodge, as well as his own cabin which his family still uses frequently.
He attended university at what is now UNC in Greeley where he met his wife, Muriel (Tatelman) O’Rorke, who predeceased him in 1991.
On a trip to Panama in 1953 to visit his in-laws, O’Rorke was offered a position with the Canal Zone which then led to his lifelong career as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO1) with the U.S. State Department. He was posted in Guatemala and Honduras and did two voluntary tours of duty in Vietnam during that war.
During his service, he received numerous commendations from various presidents and high ranking State Department officials. He was also a 32nd Degree Member of the Masonic Temple.
O’Rorke was fluent in Spanish and Japanese and spoke Vietnamese and Mandarin and was continually trying to improve. He was up-to-date on current events and read The New York Times, a ritual that provided fodder for debate, discussion and many laughs with his friends. He also was fond of his pipe and could be found smoking outside Rigden Farm on most warm days; he insisted even to his doctors that the pipe helped clear his lungs. In November, he was able to meet President Barack Obama during his campaign stop in Fort Collins.
Many will remember that in his ’70’s he decided to add a basement to his cabin in Red Feather Lakes, a task which he achieved using pick axe to break up the rock and shovels and wheelbarrows to move the debris — a feat which took him several years. Many attribute his longevity to the vigorous task he undertook at such an advanced age while suffering the hidden chuckles of his friends and neighbors (most of whom he outlived). One of his favorite sayings was “que sera, sera” — whatever will be, will be.
O’Rorke will be remembered as a stubborn debater with a kind heart and passionate feelings for human dignity and the underprivileged. He contributed to many charities promoting the causes of equal rights, women’s issues, racial and religious acceptance and other public causes.
O’Rorke is survived by his children: Susan O’Rorke of Fort Collins, Robin O’Rorke of Fort Collins and Scottsdale, Ariz. and Regan O’Rorke of Nicaragua. He will be fondly remembered by Susan’s daughters Taryn and Teagan Sebba, who visited him almost and became almost permanent fixtures at Rigden Farm. His other grandchildren include Kendall, Morgan and Riley, who flew to Colorado to honor their grandfather. His extended family in Ecuador, led by Tomas O’Rorke-Araujo, will also miss him.