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John Eugene Orrell

john orrell
John Eugene Orrell, age 57, passed away January 4th, 2005 in San Antonio, Texas. John Eugene Orrell 'Poppy' was born in Melrose, Ma. on June 26, 1947. He got to Texas as soon as possible and often told us, 'he would fight the Alamo tomorrow if needed'. Upon arriving in Texas, he attended Trinity University and received a BS in Biology. His career in the Blood Banking Industry focused on helping others receive the gift of life. 'Poppy' was a family man who loved playing golf, fishing and general rough housing with the grandchildren. He leaves behind a loving wife; Gayla Nagy Orrell, four children; Kim and her husband Rob, Shane and his wife Teresa, Leslie and Courtney. Seven grandchildren survive; Ashley, Asa, Casey, Ethan, Daisy, Arden, Kyndal and many other family members. Also very important to 'Pop' were his pets, Fishy and Alley. Although Poppy is gone to the world, he remains firmly imbedded in our memories and hearts. Never having met a stranger, Pop leaves a legacy of friendship, love and compassion.

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Memories Timeline


  1. Dear Family, I just wanted to mention that I enjoyed knowing John at Coldwell Banker even though it was only for a short time. We had some good laughs:) Praying that God will help you all through this loss, Brian G.

  2. God saw he was getting tired and cure was not to he put his arms around him and whispered “come with me with tearful eyes we watched him suffer and we watched him fade away.although we loved him dearly,we couldnt make him stay.a golden heart stopped beating,hardworking hands were put to rest.god breaks our hearts to prove to us… HE ONLY TAKES THE BEST.

  3. I played golf with John many times while he was in KC. He always had that charismatic smile, sharp wit and delightful sense of humor. I only knew John for a very short period of time. Even though, it seems much longer. I guess this perception speaks of the man. John was great to be around. But, more important, John was a great person! My thoughts and prayers are with the family. Sincerely, Joe Strueby

  4. John and I crossed paths during the 2 1/2 hrs. we worked together in the mid-90s. I remember him as a kind, good natured and understanding co-worker who always had a warm, welcoming smile and good word. I send my heartfelt condolenses to his family.

  5. Dear Gayla and family, Although we did not know John that well, our ties to your family to way back. Our hearts are with you and we pray that God gives you the strength you need to see you through this difficult time.

  6. Gayla, Kim, and family, As a new graduate, eager to practice all I had learned, John was one of the first I met in the world of blood banking. He often displayed a big, booming presence that seemed to scare many (something I thing he somewhat enjoyed). But not me, I always thought of him as a big old teddy bear. I told him that often…although I’m not sure he was amused. My memories of him are many. It was a priveledge to have known him. My prayers and deepest condolences to your family.

  7. Gayla, I am sorry to have learned the news about John. John was one of the best people I have worked with. He was smart business man and good friend. I really looked up to him and respected him. John gave me the chance to manage the St Joseph, MO center, which I have always been appreciative. I only spoke with John a few times after he left Kansas City and wish I had the opportunity to visit with him more. John touched many lives and was liked by many. He will be dearly missed.

  8. My prayers are with you,my deepest condolences. John will be missed by many. Lori Cavazos South Texas Blood and Tissue Center

  9. Dear Gayla and Family, I first met John in 1982 while he was working at South Texas Blood & Tissue Center in San Antonio. Buisnes brought us together, but because of John’s easy, out going personality our business relationship grew into a 23-year friendship. The world won’t be the same without BIG JOHN, but all us who were lucky enough to have known John are better off for it. I will truly miss him. Tom

  10. My deepest sympathy. I work with Teresa and you all are in my prayers. If you need any thing I would do anything for you. Rose

  11. I worked with John at the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center for twenty years. John was a great person and we got along great. Our deepest Condolences to the whole family. He will be missed. Frank and Ursula Dungan

  12. I became friends with John several years ago as our paths crossed as blood bankers. He was gracious to my students that were studying MLT and me allowing us visits and tours at the blood center in San Antonio, while he was there. He even came from New York City while employed at the blood center there back to Texas to be the graduation speaker for one of my MLT classes at Wharton Co. Jr. College, while I was still directing the program there. We have remained friends through the years keeping in touch via email and seeing each other occassionally at meetings. He was well liked by all and will be sorely missed even by those of us that did not see him often. My sympathy to the family. He was devoted to family and never did we communicate that he did not mention his family and new additional grandchildren. Janice Harbich Alleyton, TX

  13. Gayla, Kim and family, It was John along with Irma Villarreal who first hired me at STBTC and also who pulled me along, teaching me, guiding me and though I may have strayed at times, they supported me throughout the few yet memorable years at the blood center. John was like a ‘big’ teddy bear and when he did roar we all listened. But only because he listened to the rest of us who he did not have a voice. He could be fearless and so intent when he knew he was right. We all loved him-there is no doubt. I am so glad I had a chance to meet him years after we both left STBTC and had a chance to express how much he had meant to us.

  14. Gayla, Kim and family, It was John along with Irma Villarreal who first hired me at STBTC and also who pulled me along, teaching me, guiding me and though I may have strayed at times, they supported me throughout the few yet memorable years at the blood center. John was like a ‘big’ teddy bear and when he did roar we all listened. But only because he listened to the rest of us who he did not have a voice. He could be fearless and so intent when he knew he was right. We all loved him-there is no doubt. I am so glad I had a chance to meet him years after we both left STBTC and had a chance to express how much he had meant to us.

  15. Dear Gayla and Family: My thoughts and prayers are with in your time of need. Even though I had not seen or talked to John in quite a while, I’ve always had fond memories of his outgoing and helpful personality. Whenever, I attended meetings at STBTC, he always made everyone welcome, smiled and listened to what you had to say. He made you feel like you were part of a team working on common goals of providing the best blood components for the whole community of hospitals. He will be missed. Gayla, God bless you and your family, my deepest sympathy, Linda M. Cisneros

  16. My sincerest condolences to all of you. I am a sales person with Roche Diagnostics and got to know John while he was in Kansas City. He was truly worthy of admiration and a great person to work with. I especially appreciated his friendly smile and open attitude. I am much saddened by John’s passing. My prayers are with you.

  17. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. John was a great man. I truly admired, respected, and adored him. He was a true friend. He made an impact on many, many people. His service to others and devotion to friendship will never be forgotten. My family and I will keep you in our thoughts and prayers. May God Bless you and be with you now and always. – – Patrick Brennan and Family

  18. To My Dear, Sweet, Kind, Affable, Lovable, Friend, John Orrell, It was a blessing to me that day when I first met you at the San Antonio Regional Blood Bank. I was new in town, fresh from New England. My new boss, Gayla, and I could barely understand one another. (“But Gayla, what’s a chug-hole?” I would ask in confusion). What a relief to discover that you too were a Yankee from the swell town of Melrose MA, although you didn’t freely admit it! We bonded immediately. It was your humor that grabbed hold of me first. How you could make us laugh – John the Jow! To this day I can’t eat a salad with sliced cucumbers without thinking of you. And you were a great teacher – sharing your wealth of knowledge in hematology and blood services – and many other useful data. You were so smart! In fact, you taught me the meaning of the term “misogynist.” Certainly not by your actions – oh gracious no – you were a perfect gentleman. It was precious to watch how you treated that special woman in your life – Gayla Kay. You orchestrated some incredibly romantic dinners for the four of us -complete with flowers, specially selected menus, and fancy trimmings… the sky was the limit. And how you truly loved to surprise her! There are more than a few men out there who could take a lesson from you in how to romance their loved ones! You were always warm and welcoming, quick with a smile and a heartfelt joke…you were always so clever! Every chance we had to get together was a very special event. You visited us in Rhode Island years later and taught our 7 month old how to crawl up the stairs. You’ll be glad to know he’s now walking; in fact, he’ll be driving next month! You toured us around your adopted New York City – we ate, drank and laughed our way through a fabulous Thanksgiving weekend. Every occasion became more special because of you. You were a most precious friend to us all these years, John, and my heart breaks that we have this distance between us. I hope you’re smiling down on us now, John, in your Stetson and favorite boots! You became a real Texan, for your true love lies deep in the heart of it! We will forever smile and feel warmth deep inside whenever we think of you, our dear and loving friend. XOXO, Rita the Rauw

  19. To Gayla and Family, There are never enough words, at a time like this, to express our deep sympathy for your loss. John was a special friend and a wonderful man. The love he had for his family was always evident, and to all who knew him, that was the most important thing in his life. His sense of humor was a gift that we all enjoyed. His was a life well lived, and his was a life well loved. He shall be missed. Debbie and Bill Currin

  20. To My Grumpy, You will never know how much you meant to me. I loved your sense humor! I can only hope I lead my life the way you did yours. You left this world way too soon, but I know you never had to doubt the tremendous amount of love all who knew you have for you. You will be missed. You’ll NEVER be forgotten. And I promise you I will help take care of GayLo. Love Always Your Tardoo

  21. I became friends with John in a short time. I will always keep a business card of his posted in my office. John always has a smile and easy to make friends with.

  22. A good man, and honest man, concerned more about giving than getting–these things I’ll remember about John. We worked together, though in differrent institutions, for many years. I shall miss him.

  23. I remember John from his service at the Community Blood Center in Kansas City. He brought a smile where ever he went in the center with his joking and laughter. We will miss John and his family is in our thoughts and prayers.

  24. I wish to send my condolences to the Orrell family. John was a very nice man and enjoyed talking to anyone he came in contact with. I am sure he will be missed by all here at the Community Blood Center of Kansas City.

  25. Gayla and family, My deepest sympathy and prayers go out to you on this sad occassion. John was a great man who I learned so much from. I always looked forward to working with him each day he was in Kansas City. He gave me the opportunity to do what I aspired to do and supported me all of the way. He was not only my boss, but a great friend that I will miss tremendously. I am so blessed to have know him. He was a great and wonderful man. You all will be in my prayers. May God bless you and the family during this difficult time. Best wishes, Chris, Kelli, Annie and Conner Beurman

  26. John was a great man, co-worker, and friend. I worked with him for a short time in Kansas City. A leader that truly cared and tried to make a difference everyday. I will miss him and that smile of his. My thoughts and prayers are with Gayla and the family. Terrie Eytcheson

  27. My prayers and wishes of comfort and strength go out to family and friends of John. May God keep you and bless you. Monty

  28. I was saddened when I heard of John’s passing. He was a great man and I enjoyed the time we worked together at the Community Blood Center in Kansas City, MO. He was a great teacher and I always valued his vision. He had great sincerity for people and always made them feel welcomed. I will miss him. My prayers are with you. God Bless you all.

  29. You will be missed, and I wish your family well especially those grandbabies you use to tell me about.

  30. One of my favortite memories of John is of the display representing his military service that he had on the wall of his office in Kansas City. I remember thinking, here is this big wig in the blood bank industry and he is proudly exhibiting his three sargents stripes like they were generals stars. That to me was what John was all about. His passion was in serving. It didn’t matter whether he was giving the orders or taking them. He just wanted to make a difference in this life. I’d say he did a pretty good job.

  31. Dear Gayla- I worked with John at South Texas from 1984 until he left to pursue bigger and better things. I’ll always remember him for his great personality and his teaching skills. I also remember when he took up hunting and had all of those “things” stuffed and sitting around his office. I remember when you and John came to the STRBB Christmas party after you got married. I’ll always remember you happy and together like that. Please accept my sincerest condolences. Lee

  32. Gail, family and friends of John, I wish to express my condolences for our loss and gratitude for the time spent in his company. John was a BIG man with a caring and gentile nature. He loved the outdoors, fishing, hunting and laughing, so naturally we quickly became friends. By his nature, John was blessed and was a blessing to all who called him friend or family. One of my fondest memories of John was while on a specific fishing trip in Corpus Christi with Gail, John, Lester and Myself. John’s line had snapped above the float, after hooking a nice redfish. Wadding the flats, we chased that float (attempting to catch the fish) for what must have been a half day. We did finally did manage to wrangle it and rewarded ourselves with a beer, a laugh and a much needed rest. I remember John as respectful, courtious, endearing, kind, warm hearted, persistent, jovial, good natured. I believe John lived his life according to 1 Peter 2:17 “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the King.” He loved working in an industry where what he did, made a difference in peoples lives! It is truely my honor to call John my friend. If I or my family can do anything to ease your pain or celebrate John’s life with you, please let me know. With love and reverence, Rudy and Sallie Sanchez

  33. John demonstrated competence and compassion and was a friend to all. We will miss him dearly.

  34. I share many warm thoughts of my time with John and Gayla. He became a close friend during our time in NY, and I will always cherish his friendship. Gary

  35. My condolences on your loss. John will be missed. Linda Levi New York Blood Center 150 Amsterdam Avenue NY, NY 10023

  36. John will be sorely missed in the blood bank industry. Upbeat, outgoing and a dynamic leader who always was able to see to the heart of an issue. He was a positive influence on me, and countless others who have chosen this career field.

  37. To The Family of John Orrell: I had the honor of working with John for a number of years while he was in the Blood Bank Business. A true professional. He will be missed by all his friends but our memories of John will last forever. Mike Collins

  38. Dear Gayla and family, As you can tell by the guestbook entries online, John was a special person to many people. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of John’s tribute. It is my job to make this time a little less painful for you and your family. I hope I did that for you. If I may be of further service to you, please call on me anytime. Very truly yours, Craig Cates Meadowlawn Park and Crematory

  39. Gayla- my memories of John will always include laughter, good wine, your love for him, and his for you. There are some things cancer can not defeat. You have them in your heart- I am so sorry I wasn’t there to help you through this- Karen

  40. Tia, Everyday I look up to the sky and talk to John.Thank him for a nice day, or letting him know he’s better off upstairs today.Always asking him for guidance and reassuring him of my love for him.I will never forgot my hunting partner and best friend.Love always.Duke

  41. Dear Gayla, I was so sorry to hear the news about John. My sympathies are with you and your family. I have always felt that John was a catlayst in my career. I so enjoyed spending time with him. He was such a giving man.

  42. As spring nears I continue to miss my friend. I know that he will never be far from my thoughts and as the “Blue Boys” gather in the future a smile, a toast, and a tear will be for Johnnie aka “Tio”. May he rest in peace and Galya and the family find peace in his memory.

  43. Even though I only worked with John a short time I felt like an old friend. He had an amazing ability to make people feel that way. I became a blood banker because of John. I feel honored to have known John and to have worked for him. I will not forget him or the lessons I leaned from him.

  44. Gayla Be proud! You had the best! He marked the lives of many of us. He loved what he did and the people he worked with. Our thoughts are with you. Maria and Celso

  45. To Gayla and family members, John had the special gift of meeting and instantly bonding with people. He wasn’t superficial, the friendships were deep and transcended many differences. He is just not the type of person you forget. Hopefully, you will get comfort from knowing Symie and I hold him in high regard and that many, many people morn his passing with you.

  46. John served us at Community Blood Center of KC for three years. He was a warm and caring man. He made us all feel important and he never forgot a name or where we worked in the company. John was always a ready listener and was genuinly interested in our concerns. Many of us were heart-broken when he resigned his position to return to Texas. Now his death has left us in shocked disbelief. My hearts break with yours over the loss of this truly wonderful man. Please accept my deepest and sincerest condolenses.

  47. Dear Gayla and family, I was very saddened to hear that John had made his transition. I spent very little time with him during our working relationship with the Community Blood Center of Kansas City since I work in the Jefferson City office. But every interaction and conversation I had with John was positive, inspiring, and meaningful to me. He was truly a tremendous individual and will be greatly missed. Namaste!

  48. John was a warm caring person, who we loved and enjoyed being around. I will miss his jokes, stories and humor. His family is in our prayers. Love, Your Rockport Neighbors-The Tullis’

  49. John was one of the nicest and honest people I knew. The blood bank industry has lost a good one! We will miss him very much. My heart goes out to all his family and everyone who cared about him and there are MANY!!! Robin Nozick President, R.F. Nozick and Associates, Inc.

  50. Dear Gayla and family, I know Brian said some kind words for the both of us, however, I wanted to express my deepest sympathy to you and your family. John was a wonderful, caring individual. It was an honor to have known such an amazing person. “God, how I’m going to miss his big smile and warm hugs”. Take care and God Bless! Love always, your Coldwell Banker friend Kathy

  51. Red wine, blue quail, Big Bend country….less than 2 months ago “Tio” was with good friends actively hunting and enjoying himself. That’s the way I’ll remember him. John was a gentleman and a sportsman. He’ll be missed.

  52. Gayla and family, My thoughs and prayers are with you at this most difficult time. Love, Sarah

  53. I didn’t get to know John all that well but met him at the times I was with Duke Royall. Charming Prince of a Man. Gordon Barth

  54. Dear John, You will be sorely missed by me and countless others. You were one of a kind. Larger than life. Intimidating when you raised your voice but quick to lighten the mood with a joke or a smile. I admired the love you had for your mother,wife and family. The appreciation you had for the finer things in life and most of all your sense ot humor and laughter. I regret not keeping in touch during the past few years but cherish all the fond memories. May you rest in eternal peace. Love, Peter The Pow

  55. My deepest sympathies to you, Gayla and your family. I truly enjoyed working with John at the NYBC and celebrating his 50th at my favorite restaurant Aquavit in NYC. It is only through faith in the resurrection that we can continue.

  56. I was heartbroken to hear that John had passed away. I met him when we worked at the Community Blood Center. He was a wonderful man. He was always kind and had such an outgoing personality. He will be missed. You are in my thoughts and prayers. God bless you.

  57. I enjoyed working with John at Community Blood center. I always remember at the end of the day John would be at his desk, surrounded by picutres of the grandkids, talking on the phone with Gayla to get the latest updates. I’m sorry that his family didn’t have more time with him, but John lived every day of his life fully. Which is better than most of us do.

  58. Dear Gayla and Family, Truly, it was a tremendously sad day when we learned the news of John’s passing. I was privileged to know John prior to his arrival in Kansas City and have many pleasant memories to savor. John was one of the most affable persons I have met, a person who knew how to be a friend and to enjoy life. Your grief at his sudden passing must be great at this time. I pray that the turning of time’s wheel will lessen the pain of his death and that your memories of his life among you will overcome the inevitable saddness of the last few months.

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