Ian Michael Orme, age 65, passed away peacefully in his sleep Tuesday, June 19, while at his summer home in Onchiota, New York. Born August 9, 1952, Ian was adopted by a working class couple in the U.K. Ian’s father was a bricklayer, and his mother worked at a grocery store. Ian met Eileen Aquavella, a nurse, during his postdoc at the Trudeau Institute in New York and they were married August 28, 1982. Ian is survived by his wife and his two sons, Joseph Allen Michael Orme and Robert James Steven Orme.
After completing primary school in England, Ian went on to Paddington College in London, and completed his bachelor’s degree and doctorate at the University of London. In 1981, he began his post-doctoral training at Trudeau Institute in New York. In 1986 Ian joined Colorado State University as faculty and remained at CSU for his entire career. Ian was one of the world’s leading experts in tuberculosis and immunology. He became a full professor in 1995, and in 2009 CSU honored him as a University Distinguished Professor for his excellence in research.
In his early life Ian had ambitions to be a professional soccer player. Even though that didn’t pan out, he still had a great passion for sports, especially soccer and rugby. For his work in organizing the Can-Am rugby tournament, which generated $2.5 million annually for the upstate New York community, Ian was awarded honorary membership to the Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce. He was president of the Mountaineer’s Rugby and Football club from 1982 to 1986, and the founder, manager and coach of the County Cork Pub Soccer Club in Fort Collins.
Ian is described and remembered by his colleagues and friends as ornery, funny, generous, and visionary. Ian was passionate and innovative throughout his life and showed no fear in facing bureaucracy or precedent. He pioneered the mouse and guinea pigs model for tuberculosis research. Some of his most notable accomplishments include receiving the Roussel Prize, an international research award, in 1994, and the Charles C. Shepard science award from the Centers for Disease Control in 1999. He was elected fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 2002, and in 2014 he was elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Ian has more than 300 publications to his name, more than 30 scientific chapters, and proposed nearly 300 grants during his career, raising in excess of $100 million in research funding and shaping the scientific understanding of tuberculosis in a myriad of ways.
Friends and colleagues call him “one of the most amazing people I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” “a mentor to many who went on to establish strong careers in both research and teaching,” who “constantly challenged people with his sometimes abrasive style, but had an incredible heart,” “students loved his immunology class, and the impact he made on them will continue his research for a long time.”
Later in life Ian was able to connect with his biological family and discovered that his affinity for sports came from his birth mother. He has traveled back to the U.K. to see the family every year since finding them.
Ian was a fun-loving guy known for his many lavish and legendary parties at the “Orme Towers.” Many evenings were spent around the patio, beer in hand, regaling a crowd with his tales of travel and scientific conquest.
Ian will be deeply missed and leaves behind a legacy that will carry on through his friends and colleagues who trained under him, stood beside him, and have gone on to have their own amazing careers. He would expect nothing less from us than to raise a glass and tell a story about a man we knew who was larger than life.
A celebration of life will be held later this fall in Fort Collins. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Please make donations payable to “CSU Foundation” and note “CVMBS Memorial Fund- Dr. Ian Orme” in the memo line or you can donate online .
Family and friends may sign the online guestbook or leave a personal note.