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Dorothy Orr, Greenburgh Activist, Education Advocate, Dies At 95

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Dorothy James Orr, of Greenburgh, former commissioner of human rights for New York State and dedicated civic leader, died on Saturday, Jan. 17.

Orr was a graduate of Allegheny College and Atlanta University, where she earned a master of science degree in social work. As the commissioner for human rights, she developed the first master plan for equal opportunity for the New York State Department of Human Rights. Promoting strategies that encouraged voluntary affirmative action within the banking, insurance and media industries, she secured equal opportunity access to entry-level, middle management and senior executive positions for those needing assistance.

As executive director of  Youth in Action and HARYOU ACT, she organized and mobilized corporate executives, legislators, the poor and a staff of 1,000 to work together to provide opportunities for training, education and the access to capital necessary to living a successful life.

Orr served as commissioner of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, as associate professor at Fordham University and as a member of the President’s Advisory Board on Higher Education.

Orr was the first female African American corporate vice president at Equitable Life Assurance Society.

Born Jan. 12, 1920, in Meadville, Pennsylvania, to Isaac and Eunice Hicks James, she is survived by her husband of more than 65 years, Alfonso Orr. She  was predeceased by her brother, Richard James.

A celebration of her life will take place on Saturday, Feb. 7, at Grace Episcopal Church, 33 Church St., White Plains, New York. The viewing will take place at 10:30 a.m. with services following at 11:30 a.m. Interment will follow immediately at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.

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