Kay A. Orr

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Kay A. Orr
36th Governor of Nebraska
In office
January 9, 1987 – January 9, 1991
Lieutenant William E. Nichol
Preceded by Bob Kerrey
Succeeded by Ben Nelson
Personal details
Born Kay Avonne Stark
(1939-01-02) January 2, 1939 (age 76)
Burlington, Iowa
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) William Dayton Orr (1957-2013)[1]
Children 2
Alma mater University of Iowa

Kay A. Orr (born January 2, 1939) was the 36th governor of Nebraska and served from 1987 to 1991. She is a member of the Republican Party.

Personal life[edit]

Orr was born as Kay Avonne Stark in Burlington, Iowa. Her mother, Sadie, was active in local politics, while her father, Ralph, was a Burlington city council member and farm implements dealer.[2] She attended the University of Iowa from 1956 to 1957. She married William Dayton Orr on September 26, 1957, and they had two children, John William and Suzanne.[3] She moved with her family to Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1963. Shortly after moving there, she began volunteering as a Republican Party worker. She supported such politicians as Richard M. Nixon, Carl Curtis, and Roman Hruska, and in 1969 was named "Outstanding Young Republican Woman" in Nebraska.[4]

Bill Orr died from complications of COPD on May 5, 2013.[5]

Political career[edit]

Appointed to fill a midterm vacancy, Orr served as Nebraska state treasurer from 1981 to 1982, and, as she was subsequently elected in her own right in 1982, continued to serve to 1986, becoming the first woman ever to be elected to a statewide constitutional office in Nebraska.[6] In the 1986 general election, she defeated former Lincoln Mayor Helen Boosalis in the first U.S. gubernatorial election in which both major party candidates were women, winning by a 53% to 47% margin. Although a Republican woman, Vesta M. Roy, served as the unelected acting governor of New Hampshire from December 1982 to January 1983, Orr was the first Republican woman to be elected governor in the United States.[7] To date, she is the only woman to have served as governor of Nebraska.[4]

Orr was narrowly defeated for re-election as governor in 1990 by Democrat Ben Nelson. Nelson's two main attacks on her gubernatorial record were her support of a proposed low-level nuclear waste dump and her raising taxes.

Orr has twice served as a presidential elector for the state of Nebraska, casting one of the state's five electoral votes. In the 2004 presidential election, she voted for George W. Bush; in the 2012 election, for Mitt Romney.


  1. ^ Walton, Don. "Bill Orr, first gentleman of Nebraska, dies at 78." Lincoln Journal Star. 2013-05-05. Retrieved 2013-05-06.
  2. ^ Kaufman, Joanne (1988-12-12). "While Nebraska Governor Kay Orr Makes Policy, Husband Bill, Her 'First Gentleman,' Bakes Meat Loaf". People Magazine. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  3. ^ "Kay A. Orr". Nebraska State Library and Archives. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  4. ^ a b http://www.nga.org/portal/site/nga/menuitem.29fab9fb4add37305ddcbeeb501010a0/?vgnextoid=f287ae3effb81010VgnVCM1000001a01010aRCRD[dead link][dead link]
  5. ^ "Husband Of Former Governor Kay Orr Dead At 78". WOWT. 2013-05-05. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  6. ^ "Kay A. Orr". Nebraska State Library and Archives. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  7. ^ Knudson, Thomas J. "Nebraska, in new page to history, installs woman". New York Times. 1987-01-09. Retrieved 2013-05-06.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Bob Kerrey
Governor of Nebraska
Succeeded by
Ben Nelson