Orr was born in Osceola, Missouri, April 25, 1907, to Edward Nicholas Orr, III and Allena (Welch) Orr, natives of Tyler and Doddridge Counties, WV, respectively. He attended Glenville State Teachers College (GSTC) in spring of 1925 and again in spring of 1939 when he received his A.B. after doing his student teaching at Glenville High School. In between, Orr attended St. John's Military School, Potomac State College, WVU (where he was editor of the Daily Athenaeum), and Missouri University. Orr married Ella G. Murray on May 28, 1938, a former 1934 GSTC graduate. During his career, he taught journalism, was news editor of the Dominion-News in Morgantown, WV, copy editor of the Beacon-Journal in Akron, Ohio, worked for Tampa University as Public Relations Council, and was state editor to the Tampa Daily Times. Orr lived and worked most of his life in Tampa, Florida until his death in 1985, after which the Edward Nicholas Orr, IV "Estate in Trust" was established at Glenville State College to provide scholarships to students in his field of journalism.
During the late 1930s, Glenville State Teachers College was rapidly changing because the United States was recovering from the Great Depression with President Franklin D. Roosevelt setting up programs to help the poor and unemployed. Although, prior to the invasion of Poland, talk had begun about a possibility of war overseas (WWII).
The National Youth Administration (NYA) was established in 1935 within the Works Progress Administration. "Created in a period of widespread unemployment as part of the New Deal program of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the NYA at first engaged in obtaining part-time work for unemployed youths. As unemployment decreased and war approached, emphasis was gradually shifted to training youths for war work until, early in 1942, all NYA activities not contributing to the war effort were dropped. Its activities ceased late in 1943." (Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Copyright (c) 2003).
Glenville High School was emphasizing Americanism (patriotism) in 1939 as seen in the school's newspaper, The Satellite, which won a State University Journalism Award during Orr's spring student teaching semester. The town of Glenville had recently put in its (and, to date, Gilmer County's) one and only stop light (1938) and the county still had five (?) high schools, Glenville, Sand Fork, Troy, Normantown, and Tanner. Sound film projectors were not yet in the high school and adults were referred to as Mr., Mrs., or Miss. The Satellite covered school activities and news about the grade school, local affairs, Glenville State Teachers College, and state and world events. Historical facts, school sporting news (such as the school Red Terrors basketball team), book/film reviews and gossip/romance were also reported. Local advertising businesses included Kanawha Union Bank, The Hub, Crystal Restaurant, The Midland Co., Straders 5&10, IGA, Pictureland Theatre, Lyric Theatre, Wilson Motor Co., Garrett's Pool Room, and MC's Pool Room... all of which are now long gone.