Alan Wayne Orcutt, 73, died September 21, 2020, at his home in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Born November 25, 1946, Alan was always meant to be a force of nature.
As an adult, he stood 6’3’’ tall and had a voice that effortlessly reached every corner of a room. He was the kind of man who felt most at home outdoors and loved cowboy movies, his country, and God. He was also the kind of man who wept openly when he was moved and lived to cuddle babies and sweet talk dogs.
Al was, above all else, a family man. He had three children and his proudest achievement was that they had all grown up to be, in his words, “good, kind people, which is all that really matters in this world.” When Al was around his six grandchildren, his face radiated joy. He was generous with his love and his candy stash, and he lived, quite literally, for the days when his house was full of people laughing together.
Al’s life was a story of unexpected turns in the road. He enjoyed a wonderful childhood in Jacksonville with his older sister, Jane, and his big brother, Bob. He learned how to golf almost before he could walk from his father, Selwyn Orcutt, and played practical jokes on his beloved mother, Mary Orcutt.
He joined the United States Coast Guard and served in the Bahamas, risking his life to rescue strangers and — on off days — diving and catching lobsters while holding his breath for more than two minutes at a time.
He married his high school sweetheart, Kaysie Brown, and became a father to Greg and Amy. He went to forestry school and learned how to protect the natural areas he saw as our country’s greatest treasures. He got divorced. He changed careers, becoming a right of way agent with Carolina Power & Light. He married his friend-turned-soulmate, Jill, and welcomed another daughter, Jennie.
Al eventually relocated to Pine Knoll Shores, thrilled to be close to the ocean again. Many mornings, he would run down the beach to a local fishing pier, dive into the water, and swim out, out, out, not turning back to shore until he had passed the end of the pier and waved at the men up above.
He and Jill were devoted members of St. Francis By The Sea, an Episcopal church where Al served on the vestry for many years. His happiest days were spent with his buddies on the golf course or supporting the local kids’ softball league and the high school color guard.
Later in life, Al encountered the sharpest twist on his journey: A back injury and unsuccessful surgery stole much of his mobility, weakening his strong legs over time. As the years passed, he was forced to give up his career and his golf game. In the end, he became housebound. Jill’s ongoing care proved her full commitment to their wedding vow of “in sickness and in health.”
There were still bright spots in life, however, because Al chose to look for them and to create them. In spite of his intense chronic pain, he danced with both of his daughters on their wedding days, wheelchair be damned. He passed his love of nature to his son and delighted in hearing stories from Greg’s career with the North Carolina State Parks System.
Al often watched television shows about life in Alaska, marveling at the beauty of the wilderness and encouraging his children to adventure far and wide. He recorded videos of himself singing “Puff the Magic Dragon” so he could lull his grandchildren to sleep despite not being able to sit at their bedsides.
On many occasions, he was tempted to give up on life. He never, ever did.
Alan Orcutt was not a perfect man, but he was a good one. None of his children have any doubt that he loved them beyond measure. Two days before he died, he said, “I never got to meet either of my grandfathers. I have changed that for my grandkids.”
He will live on forever in their memories.
Alan is survived by his wife of 42 years, Jill Orcutt; his son and daughter-in-law (Greg Orcutt and Ali Holshouser Orcutt); and his two daughters and sons-in-law (Amy Pickering and Jon Pickering; Jennie Saia and Jarrett Saia). His grandchildren are Liam Orcutt, Katy Orcutt, Evie Orcutt, Ashlyn Pickering, Kaylyn Pickering, and Gwen Saia. He also is survived by his sister, Jane Murrell; and his brother and sister-in-law (Bob Orcutt and Elaine Orcutt).
Al’s family will celebrate his life in a small private ceremony. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name to the Wounded Warrior Project or the Friends of North Carolina State Parks.
Arrangements have been made by the Clancy Strickland Wheeler Funeral Home in Wake Forest. Family and friends are welcome to share memories and condolences by clicking on the Tribute Wall tab located at the top of the obituary.
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