Cover photo for Ivan Edward Orgee's Obituary
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1944 Ivan 2023

Ivan Edward Orgee

October 2, 1944 — November 22, 2023

Grants Pass

Ivan Edward Orgee, age 79, of Grants Pass, died November 22, 2023 at his home.

Ivan was born and raised in Cheltenham, in the scenic Cotswold Hills in southwestern England, but he spent the major part of his life outside of England. He graduated from the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, England, where he learned sailing and flying, piloting both open cockpit Tiger Moths and jet aircraft. An asthma attack and an Air Force examiner who enjoyed failing Navy pilots ended his aspirations of becoming a pilot in the British Navy. As he had no desire to join the submarines, he elected to leave the Navy and subsequently took an apprenticeship with the international division of the British Motor Corporation. For the next 10 years he worked for BMC and British Leyland International, selling and assembling cars and trucks worldwide. He traveled extensively throughout Africa, particularly in the Francophone countries where he perfected his French, living in Algeria for a time.

In 1975 Ivan went to work for the American trucking company, PACCAR, which manufactures Kenworth and Peterbilt heavy duty trucks. Working for PACCAR International, Inc. for 10 years, he held District and Regional Sales Manager positions in the Paris, France, and Brussels, Belgium offices, selling long-haul and off-road oilfield, mining, and logging trucks throughout Africa and the Middle East. He also handled international accounts in New York and lived in New Jersey for two years. In 1982 he returned to Brussels offices and married Cheryl Vetter. Following the birth of their daughter, Devon, in 1984 the family moved back to the USA, where he took a position with Peterbilt Motors in Newark, California (San Francisco Bay Area), handling regional truck parts sales and dealer development in the western states. In January of 1992 Ivan became a United States Citizen.

In 1994 Ivan and Cheryl both left the corporate world behind and bought their own business, Danville Home Repair. Ivan got his General Contractors License and did the estimates, sales and field management, while Cheryl managed the administration and finance side of the business. While in the Bay Area they began sailing in earnest, with Ivan active in the local club racing community. After 16 years spent growing the company to include major home remodeling, they retired, closed the business, and went cruising on their 42-foot Catalina sailboat, “Thumbs Up”. Living abroad for five years they sailed form San Francisco to Mexico, then across the Pacific to the French Polynesian islands, on to New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and New Guinea.

Ivan thrived in the sailing world and loved it. Along with Cheryl he mastered the challenges of helmsmanship, navigation, weather, radio communication, and boat maintenance. He loved exploring new places and meeting new people of diverse nationalities and cultures. For him, it was a lifelong dream fulfilled.

In 2013 Ivan and Cheryl sold “Thumbs Up” in Australia and returned to the USA. After five years of cruising, the noise and crowds of the Bay Area was more than they wanted to deal with, and following friends they moved from Pleasanton, California to Grants Pass, Oregon in May 2015.

Ivan was married three times. In 1966 he married Rosalind J. Buckingham in Cheltenham, England. They had a son, Jonathan. In 1972 he married Ann V. Bolton, with whom he had two sons, Dominic and Darren. In 1982 he married Cheryl Vetter and had a daughter, Devon. They were married 41 years at his death.

Ivan’s memberships included Grants Pass Kiwanis (with a special interest in the scholarship and reading programs in the local primary schools), Oakland Yacht Club, British Car Club, and Pleasanton-Tulancingo Sister City Association.

He volunteered for the Josephine County Parks Advisory Board and was chairman at time of death.

Ivan loved sailing; off-shore cruising and racing, golfing, RVing, and was a British car enthusiast.

Ivan is survived by his wife of 41 years Cheryl D. (Vetter) Orgee; his children, Jonathan E. d’Orgee and spouse Rhona d’Orgee of London, England, Dominic C. Norman and spouse Abbey Norman of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Darren E. Norman of Knoxville, Tennessee, and Devon F. Lopez and her spouse Mauricio C. Lopez of Medford, Oregon; his brothers, David G. d’Orgee of Ascot, England, and Theo R. d’Orgee of Cheltenham, England; and five grandchildren.

Ivan is preceded in death by his parents, John E. Orgee and Edith (Dowling) Orgee, and his half-brother John M. Orgee.

Before succumbing to the ravages of a rare type of congestive heart condition, Ivan lived life at 90 mph. His intelligence, keen memory, and avid interest in the world at large kept him involved and eager to explore new places whenever possible. Equally at ease with the Prime Minister of India or a local service station attendant in New Guinea, he always had a story to tell. He loved to stir the pot and inspire debate and laughter, and despite occasional misunderstandings over his sometimes-biting British sense of humor, his friends and family will greatly miss his ready “cheeky” smile and enthusiasm for life. 

Private services were held. 

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