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George Jim "Poppy" Orsak

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George Jim "Poppy" Orsak Obituary
George Jim Orsak, known to friends and family as "Poppy," passed away quietly at his home in Alamogordo on Monday, Aug. 15, 2011, due to complications from pancreatic cancer. He was surrounded by his immediate family, his wife of 58 years, Virginia (Gigi), and his daughter Diane O. Turner, both of Alamogordo.
Poppy was born George Jim Orzak on April 27, 1928, in Moulton, Texas. His father, Cyril Joseph Orzak (later changed to Orsak) immigrated to the United States from Czechoslovakia. While in the United States, Cyril met and married his wife, Frantiska Bolf, who had also immigrated from Czechoslovakia. While they met in the U.S., Cyril and Frantiska discovered they were from the same small community in Prague.
Poppy was the sixth of eight children. The Orsaks mainly farmed for a living, a legacy of hard work that followed Poppy his whole life. Of his seven siblings, C.J. Orsak, Hattie Leita, Jerry Orsak, Eddie Orsak, Otto Orsak, Rosie Cherny and Irene Prasek all preceded Poppy in death, except for his older sister Hattie, who lives in Texas.
In 1946, at age 17, Poppy enthusiastically joined the U.S. Marine Corps (Platoon 25; San Diego). Poppy's service in the Marine Corps took him all over the world, including Peping, China. Honorably discharged from active duty on Dec. 4, 1947, Poppy joined the Reserve and was honorably discharged Aug. 18, 1948. After the service, Poppy began working as a lineman for electric companies.
Poppy married the love of his life, Virginia Imogene Akins (Gigi), on May 29, 1953. Although the couple only had $5 to their name when they got married, they built a successful and fulfilling life together over the following 58 years. Gigi became a fantastic housewife, hostess and helpmate for Poppy. Gigi enjoyed the traveling the couple did for Poppy's work, travel that took them to many exotic places.
Mostly self-taught, Poppy began his working career as an electrical linesman. In 1960, Poppy joined the world-wide construction firm of Brown and Root. In the next 28 years Poppy rose from an electrical foreman to project manager of multi-million dollar projects. Some notable projects included the Old River Lock Project (1960) and building off-shore platforms for Shell Oil in Venezuela. His travels with Brown and Root took Poppy and his family all over the world, including the Dominican Republic; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Abaco, Bahamas. Poppy also worked all over the United States, including at the Chino Mine, Silver City, and he was project manager of the Playas Smelter at the Tyrone Mines. Poppy retired at 55 years old so he could play more golf at Alpine Country Club, Alpine, Ariz. The cold, rough winters in Alpine helped Poppy and Gigi decide to move to Alamogordo in 1988, where they were also closer to Diane and their grandchildren. He and Gigi lived on hole No. 3 at Desert Lakes Country Club in Alamogordo. Poppy played golf every day after moving to Alamogordo until his health problems finally slowed him down.
Not content with just playing golf, Poppy organized the Wednesday Seniors Golf League at Desert Lakes. Poppy also created, organized and sponsored the George Orsak Open golf tournament. A member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Alamogordo Elk's Lodge, Poppy was always willing to lend a helping hand. Poppy had many friends who often commented that he reminded them of John Wayne with his tall stature, mild manner and unwillingness to say anything bad about anyone.
Gigi and Poppy adopted their only child, Diane Orsak Turner, when she was 5 years old in 1960. Spending time with Diane, her children and the grandchildren was Poppy's favorite pastime. Poppy is survived by his wife, Gigi, his daughter Diane and her fiance, Timothy D. Wilson, of Artesia. Also surviving are Diane's children: Dawn and her husband, Joseph Hudson, with their children Bryson Alexander, Carter Alan, Chase Turner and Bailey Virgina, of Okinawa, Japan; Shannon and her daughter Taylor Grace, of Albuquerque; Jim Olden Turner II and his wife, Amanda, with their children Robyn Nicole and Beau Olden, of Alamogordo; and George Jim Turner, his fiancee, Crystal, and their children Tobias Jonah and Ethan Myles, of Silver City.
At Poppy's request, no services are planned.
Published in Alamogordo Daily News from Oct. 23 to Nov. 23, 2011
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