John B Orem, Jr

February 28, 2020


Captain John Bohannon Orem, Jr. passed away from natural causes on February 28th, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia, he was 90 years old. He was pre-deceased by his wife of 63 years, the former Margery Ann Howard, of Kennebunkport, Maine.


Born on May 15th, 1929 to John Bohannon Orem and Carrie Rockefeller Orem in Norfolk, Virginia, John graduated from Granby High School in Norfolk in 1947 and later that summer entered the United States Naval Academy. 


Upon graduation in 1951, Ensign Orem reported as gunnery officer aboard USS Chauncey (DD-667) homeported in Norfolk, and deployed to the Pacific during the Korean War.  He then served as Flag Lieutenant to Commander, Battleship Force.


John earned a master’s degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Enginering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1957 and became an Engineering Duty Officer. Subsequent assignments included Superintendent for Aircraft Carrier New Construction at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard; Chief Engineer, USS Providence (CLG-6) in Bremerton; Design Division Bureau of Ships in Washington, DC; Seventh Fleet Salvage Officer in Japan; U.S. Pacific Fleet Salvage Officer, Pearl Harbor; Technical Director FFG-7 Program; and Nuclear Cruiser Program Manager for CGN 36, 37, and 38.


John was born into a Navy family, inspired by his father, who retired as an LDO LCDR.  He shared his dedication to service with his son Captain John Orem (USN ret.), Naval aviator; daughter-in-law CDR Veronica Budacki Orem (USN ret.), Navy Cryptologist; son-in-law VADM Bill Merz (USNA ’86) and grandson Ensign Matt Merz, both submariners.


Upon retirement from the Navy in 1978, John was hired as Vice President of Program Management, Sun Ship Building in Chester, Pennsylvania.  From 1982 to 1992 he served as the Technical Director at Advanced Technology Incorporated in Arlington, Virginia where he directed various ship design efforts.  In 1992 he became a private consultant and worked on various projects including Navy’s Arsenal Ship and the USS Stark repair.  Additionally, he performed work for George Steinbrenner’s shipbuilding company in Tampa, which, as a lifelong Yankee’s fan, John found exciting.


In 2001 John and Margery moved to Margery’s family home in Kennebunk, Maine, where he volunteered at the local historical museum, enjoyed his weekly bridge group, and traveled.  In 2013, he and Margery moved back to Arlington, Virginia to be closer to family.


John is survived by three children, John Howard Orem (Vicki), William David Orem (Karen), and Martha Ann Merz (Bill), and eight grandchildren.

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