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Clay County advocate dies Tuesday in Caribbean swimming accident

Posted: January 22, 2014 - 9:24pm  |  Updated: January 23, 2014 - 12:10am
06/28/02  --  Longtime director of the Clay County Economic Development Commissions Orien Pass is retiring. Pass stands overlooking the St. Johns River at the Club Continental in Orange Park.   Crista Jeremiason/staff
Crista Jeremiason/staff
06/28/02 -- Longtime director of the Clay County Economic Development Commissions Orien Pass is retiring. Pass stands overlooking the St. Johns River at the Club Continental in Orange Park.

A prominent Orange Park Rotarian and former executive director of the Clay County Economic Development Council, Orien Pass, died Tuesday in a swimming accident. He was 76.

Pass was on vacation in the Caribbean with his wife, Jacque, traveling through the islands on a catamaran when he died trying to swim from the boat to shore, said friend and former Rotary district governor Ken Smallwood.

“Many of us called him Mr. Clay County,” Smallwood said.

He died near The Baths on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, according to the BVI Beacon, a newspaper in the islands.

His wife was also swimming and when she got to shore realized her husband was behind her, struggling in the water, Smallwood said. Witnesses helped bring her husband to shore and unsuccessfully attempted to revive him for nearly a half-hour.

Smallwood sat next to Pass every Tuesday as members of the Orange Park Noon Rotary Club and said Pass cared more about the success of the entire county rather than just enriching his friends.

“He believed in the concept that a rising tide lifts all boats,” Smallwood said.

He said there were many occasions when Pass knew of a deal about to take place in the county but he wasn’t the kind of guy to give inside information to friends.

“Orien’s dedication was to the county, not any one individual or project,” Smallwood said.

Bill Garrison is the current Executive Director of the Clay County Economic Development Council and he said Pass was someone he could always go to for advice.

“He was a great mentor to me,” Garrison said.

Garrison has the job Pass held from 1990-2012 and he tries to emulate the way Pass conducted business.

“One of the things he always taught me was you’re not going to be successful in the office,” Garrison said. “You’ve got to get out and go meet people.”

Pass spent time on the Florida Industrial Development Practitioners Advisory Committee as well as the Florida Economic Development Council.

“Clay County is much stronger for his leadership and involvement in both business and regular community,” said Doug Conkey, President of the Clay Chamber of Commerce.

Pass was in charge of scheduling the Rotary bell ringers this past holiday season and he was as on top of that as he was any business he was ever involved in, said Garrison. He scheduled where and when people would ring the bells and he called the day before to remind the ringers.

“He was not just an average guy,” Garrison said.

 

Joe Daraskevich: (904) 359-4308

Comments (2)

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sapien
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sapien 01/24/14 - 08:27 am
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Premium Member
Huge loss for the region.

Huge loss for the region. RIP. And condolences to the family.

Jsackerson
252
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Jsackerson 01/23/14 - 03:20 pm
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Premium Member
~RIP~ Uncle Orin! You will be

~RIP~ Uncle Orin! You will be missed.

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