Giving back for Duane Orn

Sen. Chris Eaton, Duane Orn and Brooklyn Center Mayor Tim Willson gather at Orn’s retirement party and fundraiser for the civic and veteran’s memorial amphitheater at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Jan. 26. (Submitted photo)

Sen. Chris Eaton, Duane Orn and Brooklyn Center Mayor Tim Willson gather at Orn’s retirement party and fundraiser for the civic and veteran’s memorial amphitheater at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Jan. 26. (Submitted photo)

There was only one way Duane Orn would have a retirement party to celebrate his 50 years as a family physician in Brooklyn Center. He agreed under one condition.
His friends and family wanted to celebrate Orn’s December retirement, as well as his 80th birthday, with an event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Jan. 26. Orn was certainly honored, he said, but asked for the event to be coupled with a fundraiser for the Civic & Veterans Memorial Amphitheater in Centennial Park.
“It turned out to be better than expected,” Orn said.
An anonymous donor agreed to match up to $10,000 in donations for the amphitheater project, and $12,000 came in, said former Brooklyn Center Mayor Myrna Kragness Kauth.
The grand total now toward amassed for the $335,000 project is $155,000.
Orn said he will keep promoting the project until it’s built.
“If I had a chance to complete this project, that might be the thing that is the most rewarding for me,” Orn said.
But he has other accomplishments to reflect on too.
Orn completed medical school at the University of Minnesota and began working at what is now the North Memorial Clinic in Brooklyn Center two years after it opened, he said. He enlisted in the U.S. Army but did not serve in active duty during the Korean War.
The North Memorial Clinic practice has remained small in the last 50 years, with four to seven medical providers, Orn said.
“We had lots of families that came to us, and over the years, as I used to say, the families and patients and friends kind of blurred (together),” he said. “I think if you’re going to be a family doctor … you’re going to care for families in your community. In my judgement that’s a more superior way of delivering health care.”
Orn has visited the clinic daily during the past month just to keep an eye on the place and move his belongings out, but he has walked away from practicing medicine.
According to his wife of 33 years, Karen, Orn is dedicated to his family and the community of Brooklyn Center.
The Orns have one son, Charlie, who spoke at the retirement party, and two exchange students they also call sons, Karen said.
There are 20 organizations Duane Orn is or was a part of, in addition to his medical practice, but Karen said he always puts his family first.
In his speech Jan. 26 Charlie Orn said, “It’s my dad’s heart, his spirit, his attitude that truly sets him apart. He’s a walking smile. He will open his heart to complete strangers. He believes in the inner good of all people. He chooses to love without fearing the consequences. He approaches every day and every situation with positivity.”
Karen, who retired from her job at US Bank three years ago, said their plans are to travel and visit Charlie as well as the exchange students, who live in Norway and Ghana.
And she knows her husband will continue his dedication to the memorial amphitheater. It’s designed to replace a mobile stage in Centennial Park that is used for concerts and events as well as serve as a dedication to veterans and civic organizations.
“He will really put his energy into that in the next year or two,” Karen Orn said.
Kragness Kauth also said there much more to be done to honor Duane Orn and complete the amphitheater project.
“He is Brooklyn Center’s doctor and has been for 50 years. He has done so much as a community volunteer and leading us in the right direction for things in the community,” she said.
Donations for the amphitheater project can be made to the city or through the purchase of a brick paver with an inscribed dedication.
Info: 763-569-3400 (Sue LaCrosse – Community Activities, Recreation and Services Department)

Contact Katy Zillmer at [email protected]

  • Tami Carlson

    I have worked for Dr. Orn at the Brooklyn Center Clinc and he is an inspiration to everyone that he meets! He is one in a million, that is for sure!

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