Mr. Harry B. Orem

Administration 1971


Born: Nov. 4, 1926, in Houston
Died: March 6, 2007, in San Antonio

Obituary: Orem was known as 'Mr. Alamo Heights'

Web Posted: 03/07/2007 10:32 PM CST

Carmina Danini

Interspersed with the family photos at the home of Harry B. Orem was a framed collage that told the story of his career with the Alamo Heights Independent School District.
The photos represented the 45 years Orem spent with the district as coach, teacher, Alamo Heights High School principal, central office administrator and school board trustee.

Harry B. Orem
Born: Nov. 4, 1926, in Houston
Died: March 6, 2007, in San Antonio

Military: U.S. Navy, 1945-1947; U.S. Navy Reserve, 1947-1986

Survived by: A son, Tim Orem of San Antonio; a daughter, Kathryn Neill of Burleson; and five grandsons, Christopher Orem of San Antonio, Benjamin Orem of College Station, Matthew Neill of Waco and Cooper and Brady Neill, both of Burleson; he was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Fern.

Service: A memorial service is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday at Alamo Heights United Methodist Church at 825 E. Basse Road.

Memorial: Donations can be made to the Alamo Heights Baptist Church General Fund, 6501 Broadway, San Antonio 78209.

"That's what Alamo Heights is to me. It's home," he told a San Antonio Express-News reporter in 2002.

Orem, 80, died Tuesday. The cause was unknown, but he had been fighting multiple myeloma for several years.

To his peers, he was "Mr. Alamo Heights" because he was such an institution, Superintendent Jerry Christian said.

"He was part of everything that was Alamo Heights," Christian said.

In recognition, the district football stadium was named in his honor in 1994.

Four years later, the State Board of Education gave him the "Heroes for Children" award.

Orem's association with the school district began in the mid-1930s, when he entered elementary school after moving to San Antonio from Houston with his family.

Except for a brief teaching year at North East High School — now MacArthur High School — his life revolved around the district.

It's also where the Trinity University graduate met Mary Fern Hawkins, a first-grade teacher at Alamo Heights Elementary School, now Cambridge Elementary School, where he was a coach.

Married in 1948, they were together until she died last August.

Along with his other duties, Orem served on the board of the Alamo Heights School Foundation, a nonprofit group that raises funds for the district.

Daughter Kathryn Neill said her father was more than just "Mr. Alamo Heights."

"As much as my father loved Alamo Heights, that was just a part of his life. He was a strong Christian who loved his family and his church," said Neill, who recalled how her father, an early riser, started each morning with a cup of coffee and his Bible.

Orem was a member of Alamo Heights Baptist Church, but his memorial service has been moved to Alamo Heights United Methodist Church to accommodate the large number of people expected to attend.

Mr. Orem with Terry Peterson, Max Wier, and Clay Prystash
at our 35th Class Reunion, La Fonda on Main

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