Orvile was introduced to square dancing at an early age because his father was a caller. The music was live and often just a fiddle. That early introduction to square dancing, later turned into nearly 50 years of calling.
Orvile and his life long partner, Arra, met at a roller-skating rink in Boulder, CO and were married in 1939. Orvile moved his family, which by now included sons, Richard and Donald, to Superior, WY in 1943 to work in the coal mines. Orvile and Arra learned to square dance when lessons were sponsored by the PTA. Orvile started calling and teaching rounds for a newly formed club shortly after they completed lessons. That early club danced every Saturday night and the club dues were $1.00. It wasn't long before Orvile was asked to call for a Rock Springs, WY club which was 24 miles from Superior.
The coal industry started to slow down so the Pittams' moved to Kimball NE, where the oil business was being developed and provided employment for Orvile. Kimball had started a square dance club in the early 1950's, and the folks in Kimball were happy to have another caller in the area. Orvile's brothers, Ken and Hurst, were callers for a Sidney club that was so big they had to limit the membership to seventy-five couples. Orvile, Ken and Hurst would occasionally call together.
Working in the oil fields and the long hours kept Orvile from pursuing his love of square dance calling. Eventually, he left the oil fields to work in retail, where he had more time to call. Orvile owned a men's clothing store, and Arra owned a ladies' dress shop. Arra, also, had a square dance apparel shop that they would take to various square dance events.
Orvile's popularity meant that he and Arra were traveling a lot in western Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming. Orvile was well known among the traveling callers and was helpful and encouraging to several new callers including Dave Guille from Cheyenne, Lucky Kochenower from Scottsbluff and Marshall Poole, a Kimball boy.
In the early 1960's Orvile and Arra organized a teen club in Kimball where a large group of teens were introduced to square and round dancing. I'm sure there are still those of us that remember that experience and are still active in the activity.
Orvile was a great promoter for square dance callers as well as the square and round activity. He was an active member of CALLERLAB as well as the Western Nebraska Callers Council and a member of the 073 CampnDancers. Orvile was always willing to share his knowledge of choreography and round dance cuing techniques with up-and-coming callers and cuers. Another benefit of knowing Orvile was having the opportunity to observe his interaction with people in general, and more specifically, with dancers and other callers. I'm sure his smile and friendly laugh can still be seen and heard by those who knew him.
In 1978, Orvile and Arra sold their clothing stores and were hired to be the resident round dance instructors for Lionshead Resort in West Yellowstone, Montana. In 1980, Orvile was promoted to be the program director for the resort. In 1982, they rounded out their dance program by spending the winter months in Arizona calling for several clubs, first in Tuscon for a couple of years and then to a RV park in Lake Havasu City.
Orvile and Arra returned to their home base in Kimball in 1991. Orvile was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after returning to Kimball and passed away February 16, 1995.
Arra lives in an assisted living complex in Kimball, and in April of this past year (2010) she turned 91.
Orvile and Arra have made a huge contribution to the square and round dance scene. Over the years, they have taught hundreds of dancers. Their style and grace was a wonderful example for new and experienced dancers alike, and their friendly and welcoming presence has been a delight for many lucky people who have had the pleasure of knowing them.
We miss you Orvile.