Randolph “Randy” Orner, 55, of Philadelphia, formerly of Shamokin (Northumberland County), PA, died on Saturday, July 27, 2019, at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse, 1800 Lombard Street, Philadelphia. His cause of death was complications from treatment for lung cancer.
Randy grew up in the central Pennsylvania town of Shamokin, in the “Coal Region,” whose fortunes rose and fell with those of the coal industry. The sixth of eight children born to John Orner, Sr., and Helen Hovenstein Orner, Randy cared for his two younger brothers as they grew up. The large family needed every member to contribute to its maintenance, forcing Randy to leave high school for gainful employment before his original graduation date. In school, he was known for frequently winning spelling bees. Later, he would return to earn his G.E.D.
After performing numerous and varied odd jobs throughout his youth, Randy became associated with convenience stores, in particular, Turkey Hill, and worked in management positions for a number of years. Upon the urging of a friend, he left the stores, and became a certified nursing assistant, and worked in a number of facilities in the small towns of Pennsylvania, including a significant stint in the state capital, Harrisburg.
An enthusiastic athlete in his early years, Randy combined his love of music with dance, and whenever frequenting clubs, wherever, dominated the dance floor with his creative moves and spirited performances, eliciting the admiration of his fellow clubgoers. His performance interests extended to film, and he collected vinyl, old 45s, and numerous CDs, VHS tapes, and DVDs. He liked nothing better than to prepare for people cassette tapes with their favorite musical tunes recorded.
Randy is survived by his partner of seven years, James D. Schreyer, longtime Democratic committeeperson in Philadelphia’s 15th ward, and instructor at the late Art Institute of Philadelphia. When Randy first arrived in Philadelphia, he helped his partner work local elections, encouraging voters to participate in the democratic process.
Also surviving, in the Shamokin area, are his mother, Helen; his sisters, Karen and Lori; and his brothers, Greg and Tom. His eldest sister, Pam, lives in Mesquite, NV. His father, John, Sr., and sister, Robin, predeceased him in the early 2000s, and his brother, John, Jr. passed in June of this year. Missing him greatly will be all his nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews. Also, his three cats: Snowball, Snowflake, and Mischief.
A memorial service celebrating Randy’s life will be held at noon on Saturday, September 14, 2019 at First Presbyterian Church, 21st & Walnut Streets, Philadelphia, with a reception to follow where the family will greet friends. Inurnment will take place in the columbarium at First Church.
In lieu of flowers please make contributions in Randy’s name to the ASPCA, 424 E. 92 St., New York, NY 10128-6804.