Sydelia Rae Orr was born January 18, 2007 in Chandler, Arizona to Edmund James Orr, Jr. and Elena Rose Montero, where she was raised with her two older brothers: Sage Caden and Shane Michael. Her father is originally from New Providence, New Jersey and is a consultant in the medical industry. Her mother is originally from Sayville, New York and an educator in special education for the Mesa School District.
Sydelia was often described as fierce, but she recognized early that achievement required commitment and sacrifice. While still 3 years old, she insisted on teaching herself to ride a bike without training wheels, and without help from anyone. After an hour of negotiating with gravity for stability on unforgiving concrete and macadam, she achieved success! On her maiden voyage as a self-anointed bike rider, she made it about 100 feet, then fell yet again. Unphased and fascinated, she stood up saying, “I can feel the energy coming from the ground through my body!”
With her inclination for independence, Sydelia fostered a sense of responsibility at a young age not only doing things for herself, but for others. Even before she turned four, without prompting, she would prepare for hikes and outings, packing food, water, sunscreen, and lip balm for herself and always be ready to carry and share. Notably, a few years later in first grade she came up with an idea to run a fundraiser, which she did largely by herself. It was a neighborhood party with games and things like baked goods for sale. She made and delivered invitations, ultimately raising several hundred dollars for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Sydelia constantly worked and organized. When getting to high school, she joined the Key Club, which is a volunteer organization consisting of over 200 students through her school. Unsurprisingly, Sydelia won the award for the most volunteer hours out of everyone else.
An excellent student, Sydelia earned a 3.96 GPA at Arizona College Prep, which is academically ranked in the top 1% of schools nationally. At the time of her death, she was pending approval from her application to the Science National Honor Society and considering college options. She ultimately had designs to pursue a graduate degree, followed by a career in science and/or medicine. She relished Biology and Chemistry in particular. Her passions included health and nutrition. She took Sports Medicine as an elective and asked to observe surgeries, but the facilities required students to be at least 18.
Always up for challenges, competing and learning new skills, Sydelia earned respect for her work ethic, commitment to improve and supporting her teammates in the sports she played. She was fortunate enough to finish well in Wrestling and Mountain Biking competitions, where her fitness proved to be a big advantage. Before or after scheduled practices, weight training at the local gym and/or a session of indoor rock climbing was something she embraced and did regularly. She became a member of the ACP Bouldering Club, as well. Days off generally started with a 4-6 mile jog, followed by hours at the gym.
On schooldays, Sydelia woke up at 4:30 am typically in Phoenix due to the separation and divorce of her parents. (Otherwise, it was Chandler.) This was so she could leave by 5:00 am, and get to school by 5:30 am so she could work in the cafeteria doing food prep. She’d also work the register. After morning classes, she would go back to the cafeteria and work through her lunch period. The cafeteria ladies became very fond of her and were impressed with her energy, and “her beautiful legs”.
Sydelia loved to cook. She valued that the quality of food was not just important for health but fundamental for connections and community. Although she loved (and admittedly missed) the flavor of meat, she made a decision to not eat meat over the concerns of animal welfare and animal rights. Quite disciplined and stubborn, she made that decision right before she turned 12, and never had meat, chicken, or fish since. She herself liked things spicy with intense flavor but would respect the preferences of who she was cooking for. She baked healthy bread, pancakes, brownies, and cookies from scratch. She took time to make the presentation just right, noting shapes, textures, and color, including artistic drizzles and paring fruit into shapes and animals, and quite realistic flowers.
Musically inclined, Sydelia loved to play guitar and sing. Unfortunately, she preferred to keep these skills very guarded, even with encouragement to test the waters on the coffeeshop stage. As she was someone who enjoyed listening to music and had a great aptitude for dancing, her musical tastes varied greatly, spanning jazz, hard rock, alternative, punk, and R&B…. But she was also in the top 0.1% of Billy Joel listeners on Spotify!
Sydelia was an extremely generous spirit. She really appreciated the details and making people feel great. A lot of times that would be through food, a thoughtful gift, or a simple note. Sometimes it would be just sharing some attention and time with someone who seemed a little left out, whether or not she knew the person. For those close, there was no question. Recently hearing her brother at the University of Arizona might not have plans on the day of his birthday, she drove down to Tucson, cleaned his kitchen, cooked for him, made him brownies, bought him a gift and drove back to Phoenix the same day.
The high-quality organs and tissues that were forged with years of careful nutrition and exercise were harvested from her body by the Arizona Donor Network to be processed and transplanted into dozens of patients who badly need that support. She would have been thrilled to know that everything else that was not utilized, was subjected to zero emission cremation.
Sydelia’s unapologetic commitment to achieve and give should serve as inspiration for each of us. She would apply herself with clarity, purpose, consistency…and a wry smile. It was the recipe she seemed to apply to most things; it was special.
A devoted daughter, sister, niece, cousin, and friend, she exemplified how to live passionately. Sydelia is survived by her siblings Sage Caden Orr and Shane Michael Orr; and her parents Edmund James Orr, Jr., (Nathalie Baillet), and Elena Rose Montero, (Willie Ackerman).
The family is hosting friends and family at Whitney & Murphy Bueler Mortuary on Friday, November 17, 2023. Please drop in between 4:00-6:00 pm. Several family members will be sharing some thoughts and memories at 5:00 pm and people are welcome to participate. The family is planning a private Celebration of Life at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to: