A friend of a friend-Beverly Orrell-Mike Orrell-June 22

One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for June 22, 2015.

My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

I have been walking around East Carolina University with my son Mack and wife Mira today. We are here for two days so Mack can attend orientation to get him prepared to go off to college in August. The orientation has also been a walk down memory lane for me as ECU is my alma mater. I attended ECU for 6 years earning two degrees so it was a big part of my early adulthood.

My ECU experience was a great one due in large part to the friends that I had while enrolled in college. My first three years I spent a lot of time with my roommate Mike Orrell. Mike was from Winston-Salem, NC and attended Parkland HS. He was a heck of an athlete but a knee injury during his senior year playing football limited from being a college athlete.

Mike was an only child and had two wonderful parents Kenneth Howard Orrell and Marquita Marie Myers Orrell. I was attending college 600 miles from my home in New Jersey and Mike’s parents became my North Carolina parents. His dad was a truck driver who loved life, loved his son, loved his wife, and loved the college life. His visits to ECU were legendary amongst the friends we had on campus especially our first two years living in Jones and Scott Dorm. He loved to go to football games with us, he loved to play golf with us, and you could tell that when he was around us he was proud of his son Mike. What was neat about Mike’s parents were they were young when they had Mike. They had not even turned 40 when Mike enrolled at ECU.  Mike’s mom was just 36 when he went off to college.

Marquita was the sweetest mom a son could ever want. She made the ECU gang that Mike would drag back to Winston-Salem feel right at home. I am not sure she every got over our crowd drinking her magnum of champagne during Mike’s Yard Dart/Bachelor Party we had at their house in the summer of 1974. Marquita died Monday, Jan. 5, 2004 at the age of 69. She was born Sept. 1, 1934, and worked at Forsyth Memorial Hospital.

Mike has another special women in his life his bride of 41 years Beverly Orrell.

The Friend-MIKE ORRELL-shown with his granddaughter

Mike Orrell

The Friend of a Friend-BEVERLY ORRELL-Shown with husband Mike and Granddaughter

Mike and Beverly Orrell

High School Romance

Mike introduced me to a lot of things including beach music, the interesting quirks of Chevrolet Vega, and some alcoholic concoction called PJ. I can honestly say that all three of the above items provided me some interesting experiences.

Mike and I have lost touch with each other but I think about him often.

He got married before his senior year at ECU began. Mike the entire time he was at ECU dated his high school sweetheart. His wife Beverly was back in Winston-Salem at Parkland Hospital studying to be a nurse his first three years of college. It was a pretty regular thing for him to be on the road after classes on Friday headed to Winston-Salem to be with Beverly.

When she got her RN degree they got married in the summer of 1974 and lived in Greenville for a year until Mike graduated. They moved back to Forsyth County, NC where they have had two children together. Their children’s name are Marcus and Meredith.

Beverly was also always interested in my lack of a love life at ECU. She actually fixed me up on a blind date that turned into another experience I will never forget. She had another nursing student with her at Parkland Hospital who was from Roaring Gap, NC. We got together and became an item for awhile. Mike took me on a trip back to his home in Winston-Salem and I made arrangements to see this young lady again on the trip.

She wanted me to go to Roaring Gap with her for the weekend so off we went. That visit included me being driven off the road by a jealous boyfriend who saw me in her car and a Sunday morning walk that I will never forget. We were driving from her house into Sparta, NC when a bat out of hell car comes up behind me and attempts to run her car that I was driving off the road. She promptly told me that was the boy she used to date.

Car Rage

I managed to survive the attempt on my life and we got back to her house on Saturday night in one piece. My gal and her mom went off to church on Sunday morning leaving me behind all alone with her dad. He asked if I wanted to take a walk out to the top of the pasture with him. I grew up outside of New York City so the farming life was all new to me. I didn’t know why we were walking in a pasture but off we went.

We got to the top of the hill where the pasture ended and the tree line began. The trees went all the way down a hill to a creek. My gal’s dad said let’s go check on the mash. I had no idea what was coming next but after a couple hundred yards down the wooded embankment we came upon what I clearly recognized as a still. My gal’s dad was a moonshiner.  It wasn’t fancy but there was no denying what it was. He started tinkering and checking on what he had ready for consumption. I was nervous just knowing my college career was about end being arrested in the nether regions of Alleghany County, NC with the dad of girl I barely knew.

Moonshine still

Beverly attempt to be my matchmaker failed in no small part because of my Roaring Gap, NC experience but I always loved her for trying.


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