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John Riggs Orrick

The Baltimore Sun

John Riggs Orrick, a distinguished architect whose love for his career was sparked while serving in Italy during World War II, died Friday, three days after being diagnosed with leukemia. He was 84.

Mr. Orrick, the middle child of three, was born and raised in Roland Park. Upon graduating from Polytechnic Institute, he enrolled in the Johns Hopkins University to study electrical engineering.

His studies were interrupted by World War II, during which he served in the Army Signal Corps, studying radar technology.

While stationed in Italy and Corsica, he grew to love Southern Europe's architecture and culture, said his wife, Rebecca Anne Orrick.

"He loved the buildings. He was a true art lover - he even went to the opera there," Mrs. Orrick said. "He used to say these little towns had these wonderful operas."

After the war, he completed a degree in architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, and settled in Ruxton with his wife. He later went on to become president and chairman of the Baltimore architecture firm Smeallie, Orrick and Janka Ltd. The firm won awards for its design of numerous schools throughout Maryland. It also took part in the design of the city's Central Booking and Intake Center and many buildings comprising the Keswick Multi-Care Center.

"He loved his work," his wife said. "He always kept saying, 'Wouldn't it be terrible if you didn't like your work and had to deal with it all day long?'"

His interest in architecture began in childhood. In the late 1930s, he and his older brother, Frank Orrick, made a meticulous 22-foot model of Ocean City, Mrs. Orrick said. The project won an outdoor life show and was on display in the window of the old Hochschild Kohn department store on Howard Street. Some of the model's pieces are currently on display at the Ocean City Museum.

Mr. Orrick played an active role in his professional organizations and at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Ruxton, where he was a member.

Together with his wife, he traveled extensively throughout South America, the Caribbean and southern Europe, including a trip about 10 years ago to visit the area of Corsica where Mr. Orrick had studied radar technology.

"He said the place hadn't changed in 50 years," Mrs. Orrick said. "He was so thrilled to do that. It was beautiful."

Services will take place at 11 a.m. today at the Church of the Good Shepherd.

In addition to his wife of 55 years, Mr. Orrick is survived by a son, John Riggs Orrick Jr. of Bethesda; a daughter, Anne Orrick Barton of Rye, N.Y.; a sister, Martha Orrick Milot of Jamestown, R.I.; and five grandchildren.

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