It is with great sadness that we announce that Dr. Bill Kory, Professor Emeritus of Geography at Pitt-Johnstown, passed away at his home in Florida this past weekend. “Dr. Kory was a favorite professor, beloved colleague, and a distinguished ambassador of the campus to the community and beyond, greeting everyone with his characteristically charming smile, warmth and authenticity,” stated Pitt-Johnstown President Dr. Jem Spectar.
Dr. Kory was first hired at UPJ in 1971 as an instructor in the geography department where he served with distinction until his retirement in August 2020 with recognition as a professor emeritus. “Even after fifty years of teaching Bill got excited for the start of every semester. He got his energy from teaching, and he loved to mentor students and celebrate their successes. In his last email to me days before he passed away, he boasted about a recent Geography graduate who got a big scholarship to attend graduate school in Florida,” stated his colleague, Dr. Ray Wrabley, Social Science & Business Division Chair.
Dr. Kory helped establish UPJ’s Department of Geography and through his teaching and mentoring transformed the lives of thousands of students. His former students (and proud UPJ alumni) many of whom have gone on to impactful and distinguished careers around the country, and the world, fondly remember him as a caring and dedicated professor who showed great interest in their professional and personal development.
One of the greatest passions in William Kory’s life was his love for the African continent (which he called his “specialty”) and, specifically, the people of Liberia. From the moment he arrived in Kakata, Liberia as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1963 until his retirement, he wrote and spoke passionately about Africa, its people, and contemporary issues, sharing his profound insights not just in his classes but in professional conferences around the country and the world. Among the first to join the organization barely two years after it was created, “William Kory exemplified the Peace Corps mission in his every breath as he always worked to promote peace and friendship by building personal connections between Americans and people of the world,” stated President Spectar.
Beyond the campus, Doc Kory also served his community in many capacities including as a successful football coach at Bishop McCort, member of the Southmont Borough Council, and Co-Chair of the Small Business Startup Committee that won a Governor’s Award for Excellence.
Bill Kory received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at SUNY-Buffalo (1966), a master’s degree in geography from Case-Western Reserve (1969), and a doctorate in geography from Pitt (1977).
The UPJ family extends its deepest condolences to his wife, Mary Ann, and all family and friends of William Kory.