Orson came to Alaska in 1973 and worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Anchorage. He met his wife Sharon in Anchorage and they were married in 1978. Orson and Sharon moved to Mississippi in 1983 to work at the Corps’ Waterways Experiment Station. They moved again in 1986 to North Carolina to continue graduate school. Their family of five moved back to Anchorage in 1991 and Orson again worked at the Corps’ Alaska District in planning and design of port, harbor, and coastal erosion works. Orson shifted to UAA’s College of Engineering in 1998, where he became Chair of the Civil Engineering Department and later Dean of the College. He retired from UAA in June 2014 and was awarded Professor Emeritus. Orson has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, a master’s degree in civil engineering, a doctorate in physical oceanography, and an Alaska Professional Engineer license.
Orson and Sharon have lived in Seward for the last 11 years, where Sharon is a mental health counselor. Their three children live in Anchorage and Girdwood where they all have public service careers.
Orson was seated on the Council’s Board of Directors in May 2015.