Virgil and Irene Orth were each born and spent the early years of their lives in eastern Kansas, meeting for the first time as teenagers, at a farm sale. Following graduation from high school, Virgil enlisted in the United States Navy. Irene worked for a few years in a dress factory in Kansas. After boot camp and months of training Virgil was assigned to the Whidbey Island Naval Station in Washington State. On Sept. 29, 1944 they were married in the First Methodist Church in Seattle and continued to live in Anticortis, Wash. While on assignment with the 139th Battalion in the Aleutian Islands, Virgil flew three missions to Japan as gunner in the Naval Air Force. As his time in the military progressed, Virgil was transferred to Oklahoma and then to Melbourne, Fla. before receiving an honorable discharge from the Navy. The couple farmed and lived on the home farm for the next three years when they returned to Iola, Kan. Virgil accepted employment with Kansas State College as an artificial inseminator with Artificial Dairy Cattle Breeding Company. After a period of five years in this assignment he transferred to the Phoenix area where he continued to work in the same line of work with American Breeding Service for several more years. He then was employed for the next 17 years by the Osborn School District until he retired in 1983. Irene worked for a clothing factory in Glendale, Ariz. for 20 years and then was employed in the administrative office of the Osborn School District for nine years before she retired in 1989.
During their working years in Phoenix, they bought a cabin in East Verde Estates, north of Payson, and channeled much of their time and energy converting the cabin into their future home for the retirement years ahead. Virgil’s vast experience and expertise with construction and handyman skills proved invaluable during this transition. However, as busy as the two of them were, they always had time to square dance, beginning in 1952 and then as members of the Zane Grey Twirlers when they moved to Payson, until health issues caused the couple to stop something they enjoyed so much, just three years ago.
Time with family and friends at their home continues to be cherished and always includes food from many of Irene’s “Blue Ribbon at the State Fair” recipes, followed by playing card games or dominos.
Virgil is a member of both the Moose Club and the American Legion. The Orths’ enjoy following professional baseball teams including the out of state Kansas City Royals and their favorite team, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Their son Dennis Orth has lived and worked in the Phoenix/Glendale area for many years following his tour of duty with the U.S. Navy. Their second son Albert and his wife Lily live in Perth, Australia.
According to Virgil, his secret for a long and happy marriage, “Is just saying ‘yes’ to whatever you want, Irene.” Irene’s response to the same question was, “Never wanting for more than we could afford and we have survived very well.”