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Jennifer Orr's Buffalo News Obit

Jennifer Orr, 33, former Shea's PR coordinator

Mark Sommer of the "Buffalo News" has written an eloquent and appropriately effusive obituary for Jennifer Orr, former Shea's public relations coordinator, who left to world too soon on November 13th. Jennifer was the person in my life with whom I most frequently had unexpected friends in common. Remarkably loving and loyal, she touched numerous lives and is deeply missed.

To see the text of Mark's tribute in its original context:

By Mark Sommer

April 21, 1989 – Nov. 15, 2022

Jennifer Orr was the kind of person you would hear before seeing when entering a room.

She could be telling a joke, arguing vigorously about politics or sharing happiness over a friend's success.

Then, when spotting a friend, she was as likely as not to greet them with the "Jen hug," holding on tight for several seconds before letting go.

"Jen was the brightest light in every room," said Jacob Piskor, Orr's companion. "She wanted everyone to feel love and appreciated."

Ms. Orr, who died Nov. 15 in her Allentown home at the age of 33, was known for her generosity, compassion and a deep commitment to social change and helping those less fortunate.

Born Jennifer Hoare before legally changing her name, she grew up in South Buffalo. She graduated from Mount Mercy High School and later Suffolk University in Boston, Mass., with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

She worked as a staff writer for the Bee Newspapers in Cheektowaga. Then she moved to St. Paul, Minn., to work in communications for the Senate Democratic-Farmer-Labor Caucus.

Returning to Buffalo, Ms. Orr worked as the public relations coordinator at Shea's Performing Arts Center. In September, she was one of several former employees who signed a letter, published in The Buffalo News, expressing solidarity with the current staff and backing bullying allegations made against the president of the organization prior to his termination.

"She's one of those people who come into your life and is such a bright light, making everything better when you're with her," said Bill Hedrick, Shea's senior production manager. "Jen spread love and positive vibes in every situation.

"Something else I loved about her was that she was fearless," Hedrick said. "If Jen saw something she didn't agree with, she would say something right away.

"She was one of a kind, and the world is a bleaker place without her," he said.

Ms. Orr more recently worked for Babeville, helping the performance space reopen after the pandemic.

Comedy and dance were among her pursuits.

A burlesque dancer, Ms. Orr was host and performer with TheStripTeasers, Glam Vamps and the Misdemeanors, which performed at Nietzsche's and other locations.

She was also a standup comedian who took the stage at Milkie's, the 9th Ward, Mr. Goodbar and other Buffalo venues.

Through comedy she met Piskor, who runs the open mic night at Nietzsche's.

"She was always thinking about other people, and helping them in even the most simple ways," Piskor said. "She wouldn't let them be hard on themselves, even though she was her own hardest critic."

Ms. Orr was a writer and avid reader. She loved rock 'n' roll and promoted indie artists and bands.

She volunteered with Danceability, a dance studio for people with developmental disabilities. She was also a volunteer and more recently a member of the development committee for Buffalo String Works, which promotes leadership development through music education.

"Jen was incredibly generous," said Yuki Numata Resnick, Buffalo String Works' executive director. "She always had this can-do attitude, and she was our biggest cheerleader."

Ms. Orr, upon learning in November 2020 that the organization didn't have a Giving Tuesday campaign, had one ready the next day, Resnick said.

"She did all of that just purely out of love for our students and our families," she said.

Survivors include her parents, Bernard and Anita Hoare; a brother, Brendan Orr; and a sister, Megan Hoare.

A Mass of Christian Burial was offered Nov. 29 in Our Lady of Charity Parish, St. Ambrose Site, 260 Okell St.

Mark Sommer covers preservation, development, the waterfront, culture and more. He's also a former arts editor at The News.

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