James Curtiss Orland
November 30, 1943-December 28, 2020
James (Big Jim) Orland (77) of Manhattan Beach, California passed away on December 28, 2020 at his home in Manhattan Beach.
Jim was born in Patterson, New Jersey on November 30, 1943 to Grace May Ferguson and Vincent Edward Orland. He grew up in very humble beginnings in Lodi, New Jersey with his younger brother Fred and little sister Laurie. Jim was a top student and track star at Bergen Catholic High School. After high school, Jim went to Villanova, until he followed his family out West. He eventually attended U.C. Berkeley as
an engineering major where he graduated from in 1966.
Immediately after graduating from college, he began a career in the Aerospace industry at Northrop as a stress engineer working on 747s in Seattle, Washington. He relocated to Manhattan Beach with Northrop and eventually worked at TRW as an aerospace engineer, working on the Space Shuttle and other top secret projects. Shortly after moving to Manhattan Beach, he met the love of his life, Donna Lee Spano. They were married in just over a year after meeting, and remained close together the rest of his life. Soon after getting married, he started his family and purchased a family home on First and Valley in Manhattan Beach, the first of many remodels and home flips, which Donna and the kids became accustomed to. He finally built his dream home on the top of 18th Street in 1977, in three months, where he raised Jimmy and Danielle and where he continued to live the rest of his life. Jim eventually left the Aerospace Industry and opened Orland Engineering where he worked as a well known structural engineer up until the time of his death. Jim was also a successful general contractor and is credited with building over 40 commercial projects and residential homes throughout his career. He came out of retirement as a contractor in 2014 to build his son's home and later a close family friends, both in record time.
Jim was a hard worker throughout his life, paying his way through both high school and college. He was no nonsense at work but once work was over, he became the happy fun loving Jim that most knew him as. Jim was an avid outdoorsman and especially loved to hunt, fish and scuba dive. His hunting trips took him all over the world including trips to Montana, Mexico, Canada and Argentina. He was a proud member of Duck's Unlimited and was a well known member of the Manhattan Beach rotary club in the 1980's and 1990's, serving as the sergeant of arms. Jim was very involved in his children's lives and was proud to coach numerous AYSO and Little League teams and still finding time to be an active member of Indian Princesses with Danielle. Jim was also a man of extreme faith and was a long-time parishioner at American Martyrs Catholic Church.
Jim loved to travel and take his family on many fun filled vacations, from Hawaii when his children were young, to the Bahamas, Jamaica and throughout Europe. He will be well remembered for the many pastaques and get togethers on Sunday evenings at the Orland residence. Jim was not a man of many words but when he did speak, people would take note. He had an almost photographic memory and he would intently listen to what people had to say. He considered many of Jimmy and Danielle's friends to be his surrogate children and extended family. His door was always open to everyone and those who were fortunate enough to get to know him, came to love "Big Jim".
He had a big heart and was always so generous to the many guests who visited his home over the years. Jim will be truly missed but his spirit will carry on in the vast number of friends, colleagues and loved ones that he leaves behind.
Jim is survived by his wife Donna, son Jimmy and spouse Judy, and daughter Danielle, along with his three
grandchildren Sydney, Maddie and James. He is also survived by his sister Laurie Lippert of Ashland Oregon. He
was proceeded in death by his parents and brother Fred Orland.
Funeral services are being held at American Martyrs Catholic Church in person and via livestream on Saturday January 16, 2021 at 11:00a.m.
Published in The Beach Reporter on Jan. 13, 2021.