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Orley Ray Bourland Jr.

August 26, 1926 ~ April 23, 2022 (age 95)


After a long and well-lived life, Orley Ray Bourland, Jr., died peacefully in the presence of his family on Saturday night, April 23, 2022.  


Orley was born on August 26, 1926 in East St. Louis, IL, to Orley Ray Bourland, Sr., and Nellie Eason Bourland. His two older sisters, Jane Bourland (Shaw) and Marian Bourland (Indelicato) preceded him in death. The family moved to St. Louis, MO, where he went to grade school and graduated from Roosevelt High School in January 1944. They were members of the Lafayette Park Methodist Church.  


As a child, Orley spent much time with his extended Bourland family in Woodlawn, IL, and Eason family in northern Missouri. He earned his first dollar working with his grandfather’s horses. For several summers, he took the train by himself from St. Louis to the far southside of Chicago to stay for weeks with his Uncle George and Aunt Maxine Eason. His activities there included almost daily visits to the public library and meeting Aunt Maxine’s commuter train after work. As a teenager, he learned how to speed-read, a skill he perfected his whole life; this allowed him to read at least five books a week and to make friends with librarians first in Frederick and then in Walkersville.    


Also during this time Orley took up several sports, including swimming, bowling, fishing, and tennis. Bowling was a special passion for him and he remained one of the top bowlers in his league at the age of 87. He passed on his love of all these to his children who remember practice tennis games at the old Walkersville High School courts and loud and energetic evenings watching him bowl at Terrace Lanes in Frederick. He was committed to teaching all his children and grandchildren to swim so they could fully enjoy the ocean at Ocean City, MD, and Chincoteague, VA. 


Orley enlisted in the United States Navy in December 1944. He was sent to the Naval Station at Great Lakes in Illinois where he was selected for the Navy’s secret radio electronic materiel program (later known as radar). A few months later he was transferred for further training at Treasure Island in San Francisco, which is where he was stationed when victory over Japan was declared. He then served as a Storekeeper 3rd Class on the battleship USS West Virginia and USS Essex during “Operation Magic Carpet” transferring soldiers and sailors from Hawaii back to the U.S. 


After discharge from the Navy in July 1946, Orley returned to St. Louis to continue his education at Washington University. In 1949 he received his B.S in chemical engineering, and remained a very proud alumnus of that university.  


In one of the greatest blessings of his life, he was set up on a blind date in 1950 with Margaret (Peg) Louise Smith (Hood College ’49). They married four months later and soon moved to Walkersville where they began their lives of service to that community. For over forty years, Orley was a leader at the Walkersville United Methodist Church, serving as a Sunday School teacher, chair of the Administrative Board, and the Board of Trustees. He was scoutmaster, troop committee chair, and institutional representative for Walkersville Boy Scout troops 799 and 1070. With five children, he was president of the PTA for both Walkersville Elementary and High Schools at various times, and the family was named Maryland PTA Family of the Year in 1965. Orley was openly proud of his family, and he basked in the glow of their educational and professional accomplishments. He actually enjoyed attending dozens of graduations all over the country. Likewise he and Peg loved to attend family reunions with their kids, grandkids, and other relatives. 


A big fan of camping, Orley persuaded Peg (a non-camper) to take summer vacations in a tent camper. On one memorable trip in 1964 they had to abandon camp at night in the middle of severe thunderstorms and flooding as Hurricane Cleo hit the coast at Cape Hatteras. They made other long camping trips to the Smokies, Long Island, and Canada. After retirement, Orley and Peg took many road trips to visit family and to explore places of natural beauty.  


As a young graduate, Orley drove a car his father bought him from St. Louis to Frederick, where he joined the Ft. Detrick biological warfare project in 1950 as a biochemical engineer. When the biological warfare program wound down in 1971, he oversaw the decommissioning of biological weaponry throughout the U.S. For this work he received the Department of the Army Decoration for Meritorious Civilian Service. His children grew up knowing the he worked in the “secret area” behind the double fence, where there were labs, the giant “8 ball”, and other aspects of bio-weapons handling that he helped design and manage. When this information was declassified, he had many stories to tell. After 9/11 he was interviewed by the FBI as one of the remaining knowledgeable scientists of the germ warfare era. His service at Ft. Detrick continued as he became one of the first employees of the Frederick campus for the newly created National Cancer Institute (Nixon’s initiative of 1971), and continued employment with contractors to the NCI.  


In 1976 Orley was elected Burgess of Walkersville and was re-elected four times for a total of twenty years in that role. He reveled in the challenges of this (part-time) job. During his tenure he and the commissioners carefully prepared for and guided the Town's rapid growth. He participated in the beard-growing contest during Walkersville’s 1992 centennial celebration, much to Peg’s annoyance. Of the many serious projects undertaken by the Town while he was Burgess, he took the most pride in the creation of HeritageFarm Park, one of Walkersville’s most community-focused assets, and the building of nearby Glade Elementary School. 


His many volunteer commitments included: treasurer of the Glade Valley Food Bank for 15 years, and finance committee of Glade Valley Community Services; board member for United Way of Frederick County; board member and President, Frederick County Chapter American Cancer Society; board member, Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs; and, participant in several study and advisory committees for the Frederick County Government. He was very active in the National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees at chapter, state and national levels. He was proud to be a long-time blood donor to the American Red Cross; he donated sixty-eight times for a total of 8.5 gallons! In 2008, Orley and Peg were named the Wertheimer Fellows for Outstanding Volunteerism by the Community Foundation of Frederick County. 


As a man with many interests, Orley enjoyed a variety of hobbies, reading being the first and foremost. He and Peg shared a love of bird watching which fed his enthusiasm for film photography. Orley took up furniture repair and refinishing, perhaps a necessity with five kids banging around the house. His carpentry skills also found outlets in picture framing and creating wooden toys for grandchildren. Orley was always a serious gardener both in his yard and later at the community gardening zone at Heritage Farm Park. He enjoyed cooking and perfected several recipes that live on in the family (some notoriously). Growing up in the Depression era, Orley tried to avoid spending for repair services, preferring to read up on and foster a new skill to tackle a job himself. The results of these technical forays were often mixed but the message of “try it yourself” was communicated clearly to his children and helped shaped their personalities. 


Orley is survived by his five children Annette B. Huizenga (Timothy); Olivia Ray Bourland (Mary); J. Daniel Bourland (Beth); Andrea B. Rinne (†Jamieson); and Jamie Bourland; nine grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren. 


The family is very grateful for the caring relationships and kind support provided by all the staff of Homewood at Crumland Farms and from Frederick Health Hospice. 


A celebration of life service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Walkersville United Methodist Church, 22 Main Street, Walkersville, MD 21793. 

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Walkersville United Methodist Church
22 Main Street, Walkersville MD 21793

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