Summer 2013
Sustainable Community

Undeniable
Chemistry:
Orra Herroon

In Memoriam

On June 14, 2013, Orra Herroon, an extraordinary teacher, mentor and friend of Flintridge Prep, passed away, with his wife, fellow Prep teacher Kathi Herroon, by his side.

Herroon began teaching at Flintridge Prep in 1980. Having previously taught in England, Hawaii, Ohio, New Jersey and New York, Herroon, an Ohio native, was a restless soul. After nine years at Prep, he resumed his travels and moved to La Jolla, then Glendora. He was teaching at Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena when Headmaster Peter Bachmann brought him back to Prep in 1993. He remained at the school until his retirement in 2011, marrying the former Kathi Condell in 1994.

Herroon noted the changes made in Prep’s curriculum in his absence, and he rose to the challenge as an educator. He was also an active member of Prep’s community. In an article published in PrepTalk in 2006, he said, “Prep remains a school for ‘people’ kind of people. And this goes to the very top… We care that students, faculty and staff are nice, that they can get along with others, that they can offer and enjoy something other than academics.”

Herroon truly exemplified this “people kind of people” spirit. In 2003, he was named the school’s Trustee Teaching Chair, which he held until 2011. The 2004 yearbook, titled Rebelium, was dedicated to him. And in 2007, Herroon earned the Detoy Award for teaching excellence. He served as a science fair judge and as an advisor to Science Club, Chemistry Club and Collective. Above all, the friendly Herroon frequently could be found conversing with students at the lunch tables or debating politics with colleague Michael Mullins.

No one could deny Herroon’s profound impact on Flintridge Prep.

Bachmann reflects, “Orra and I arrived on campus the same day in 1980, so for 33 years we were ‘Prep classmates.’ He was a dear friend who arrived at the hospital minutes after my son’s birth and drove 90 miles for my father’s memorial. An inspirational colleague, he viewed teaching as a sacred calling, as generations of students can testify.”

History teacher John Ruch, who knew Herroon for 31 years, reminisces, “Orra was kind of a mentor for me. In a lot of ways, I tried to live up to the high standard he set.”

Dean of Students Midge Kimble says, “Orra Herroon was a fabulous colleague. He loved talking about science and was so knowledgable. He had that love for research that was deep and interesting. I will truly miss him.”

Herroon was an inspiration to his colleagues and his students, but no one will forget his unique sense of humor. Whether he was wearing his belt buckle on the side as homage to a childhood quirk or reading clips from his “stupid people in the news” articles, Herroon knew how to balance education with fun. Though his stories were legendary and he could go on for hours about how much he loved and admired his wife, Herroon garnered the utmost respect from his students and colleagues, and the feeling was mutual.

With the initials OH, Orra Herroon was destined for the world of chemistry. But his sense of humor, contagious smile, intelligence and devotion were felt far outside the chem lab. He was a remarkable and unforgettable addition to the Prep community and will be greatly missed. Herroon’s family held a celebration of his life in Ohio in late June.

He is survived by his wife, Kathi, his son and daughter-in-law, two grandchildren and four siblings.

— Samantha Jacobs ’12