Originally Published: May 5, 2005 5 a.m.
The Orme School rededicated the Morton Vrang Orme Memorial Chapel at the Orme School of Arizona on Sunday, April 24, with a service in honor of its namesake, Mort Orme, and in loving memory of his sister, Kathryn, M. Orme.
Mort was born on July 20, 1922 and died on Feb.17, 1955. He was 33 at the time of his tragic death.
According to Orme staff member Stuart Rosebrook, "The shock of his passing brought an overwhelming response from his multitude of friends, who were one in the feeling that there be some lasting tribute to his memory.
"His life, his strength of character and love of the outdoors inspired a chapel design of rugged beauty conceived by Richard Jessup, Orme Class of 1940.
"Dick Jessup had held the school close to his heart and often returned to work on construction in the summers while he was at college. When he was asked by Charles H. Orme Sr. to come to the Ranch to build the chapel he came without hesitation."
Friends of the school formed a non-profit chapel corporation, the Morton Vrang Memorial Chapel and deeded to it the site called Vesper Hill, on which the school previously held outdoor religious services.
A board of directors composed of Mort's close friends directed the construction and business affairs of the Chapel Corporation.
Construction began in February of 1956 and they completed work in May 1957.
More than 500 people made donations to the project.
According to Rosebrook, the school originally built the edifice as a community chapel and it remains the center of spiritual life at Orme School, as well as a public chapel for local community members and ranch families.
In 1999, the Orme School agreed to the first major renovation of the Chapel since its construction in 1956.
Renovations included a new roof, skylight, bell tower, windows, electric, sound, exterior beams, insulation and lighting.
Orme Capital Campaign Committee Co-Chairs Marian Huntington Craver, Class of 1969, and Gordon McClure, as well as Buildings and Grounds Committee Chairman Henry Schwake, Class of 1956, led the fundraising effort.
At the rededication ceremony, theRev. Richard Garst, a former Orme faculty member, conducted the service.
Orme Music Director Raymond G. Roberts, M.M., provided the musical settings, accompanied by senior student Sam Marley.
Founding Headmaster Charles H. Orme Jr., brother of Mort and Kathryn, attended the ceremony, as well as his wife Mimi Orme, Mort's widow Lyn Jessup, her husband Richard Jessup, their five daughters and family members.
Richard and Lyn were the first couple married in the Chapel, June 9, 1956.
Jessup directed the architectural renovation with assistance from his youngest daughter, architect Kimberly Jessup.
Both father and daughter live in Mill Valley, Calif.
Mark Wetten of Wetten Brothers Construction, Inc., Prescott, Ariz., was the local contractor on the $400,000 Chapel Renovation project.
Founded in 1929, the Orme School of Arizona is Arizona's oldest accredited independent college preparatory boarding school.
Recently featured in the March 2005 issue of Arizona Highways Magazine, Orme enrolls 157 students on a 320-acre campus surrounded by the Orme Family's Quarter Circle V Bar Ranch and the Prescott National Forest.
During the summer, more than 200 young people, ages 7-16, travel from all over the world to take part in the school's Summer Ranch Camp.
Those seeking more information about the chapel, school or camp may visit www.ormeschool.org.