Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


May 6, 2014

Wyant lauds Bob Orders who’s dead at 82

MORGANTOWN — I was saddened to learn belatedly that Robert Burns Orders Sr. had passed away at the age of 82.

He was arguably the very best football center in West Virginia University’s history as an All-America first-team selection.

He started on the great Mountaineer teams of 1952 and 1953 after lettering two years at Army in West Point, N.Y.

Bob Orders died peacefully, on Tuesday, April 22, with family at his side, in his Charleston home. He was 82.

Born on Jan. 9, 1933, in Kermit, Orders grew up in Huntington. He earned all-state recognition in both football and basketball as a star at Huntington High School.

After transferring to WVU as a two-year letterman at Army, Orders helped the Mountaineers to records of 7-3 in 1952 and 8-2 in 1953. Both were historic seasons which I’ll explain herein later.

In the meantime, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing Fred Wyant, who was a proud friend and two-year teammate of Mr. Orders.

As the quarterback of those two teams, the Weston native was the beneficiary of center Orders’ ball-swapping as well as his blocking.

Art “Pappy” Lewis, then in a 10-year tenure as head coach, called Orders the greatest in-line blocker that he had ever coached. Isn’t that a tall tribute?

Wyant told me, “Bobby had the largest body speed we had on the team to block. He was such a magnificent blocker and certainly the best center I ever worked with.

“He was so big and spread out, it was just a pleasure to play behind Bob Orders. In the two years I played with him, and my years that I played in all, I was never stopped in a quarterback sneak for a first down or touchdown when inside the 2-yard line because of guys blocking for me.

“The first two years, Bob Orders was a big part of that. Not only Bob but all those other guys up front we had then.

“He was a delight for me.”

Wyant, who lives in nearby Star City, also noted that Orders was exceptionally smart. He had graduated with honors from high school and done well academically in his two years at the military academy.

Orders, 6-foot-4 and about 227 pounds, and Wyant, who is still WVU’s winningest QB percentage-wise with a 30-4 record as a starter, are members of both the W.Va. Sports Writers Hall of Fame and the university’s shrine.

It seems fitting that both were inducted into the fourth class of the WVU H.O.F. in 1994.

Among the reasons Bob Orders’ two years here were so significant is that he helped start, along with Wyant and others, a 30-game winning streak in the then-prestigious Southern Conference.

He also in 1952 had a huge hand in a 16-0 shutout of No. 18 Pitt at Pittsburgh. And that happened to be West Virginia’s first-ever victory over a nationally top 20 football team.

In his senior season, Orders participated in the school’s first official bowl game. That was on Jan. 1, 1954, against Georgia Tech.

While the Yellow Jackets won 42-19, it should be pointed out that two early Mountaineer touchdowns were called back by penalties. Other bad breaks hurt, too.

Orders was a two-time All-Southern Conference selection. He also made NEA Service All-America first team and second- and third-team All-America honors from UPI, Central Press and Football Digest — all in 1953.

Before graduating he was voted by state sports writers as West Virginia’s Athlete of the Year for 1953.

Orders, a member of several honorary organizations on campus, was elected as vice president of the student body as a senior.

While selected by Green Bay in the NFL Draft, he declined publicly and opted for a call up to military service.

Bob and wife Susie met while students at WVU and have been married since. They have two children and several grandchildren.

As a widely known and highly respected businessman, Orders was a board member of several organizations in West Virginia.

Those included AAA, the Boy Scouts, Goodwill Industries, and the National Asphalt and Paving Association.

The Orders family also had a winter home in Sarasota, Fla.

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