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Obituary: William Jay Gore

Submitted by Jerome Kohl on October 15, 2018 - 4:42pm

Dr. William J. Gore passed away peacefully in his home on September 10, 2018 in Seattle, WA at the age of 94. Bill's primary goal for the end of his life was to remain at home, and he was blessed to have the support of his family, compassionate home care providers and a broad network of professionals to do so. 

Bill was born and raised in Medford, OR, and finished High School in Oakland, CA. Like many young men of that era, he joined the U.S. Army and served in Europe. Returning from WWII, he entered the University of Washington and joined the Wesley Club, where he met and married his wife, Dorothy (Dotti) Mathson in 1947. After graduating from the UW in 1948 with a B.A. in Political Science, Bill pursued and received a Doctor of Public Administration from USC in 1952. His academic career started at UW, followed by moves to Kansas, Cornell and Indiana, before returning home to UW for the majority of his career. A committed Husky football fan and 50-year season ticket holder, Bill happily cheered his team at their first home game this season.

As a professor of Political Science, Bill authored dozens of articles, research monographs and books on local governments, system analysis and decision making. His career was shaped by the realization that formal structures and processes did not explain how organizations actually worked. Bill was passionate about understanding the informal, indigenous, and irrational aspects of what he called "small 'p' politics". He applied these insights in studies of small communities with the goal of improving policy outcomes in the areas of urban development, education, and health care. Bill helped raise his three children and his love of the outdoors and adventure inspired family trips every summer and introduced camping, hiking, snowshoeing and cycling to their lives. Exploring outside the city on weekends led to acquiring various sites where the family built modest cabins, the most beloved on Whidbey Island, where the beauty and community of island life enriched their lives. Whidbey also offered opportunities for Bill to develop island properties into very meaningful, small communities.

One of Bill's enthusiasms was cycling and he rode to work at UW for decades. After retirement, his routes from home included Husky Stadium, the Montlake Cut, the Burke Gilman Trail and eventually, an established flat route through his neighborhood where he was recognized as "the professor". He enjoyed this exercise, fresh air and independence until the age of 93!

Additionally, Bill had a lifelong love of woodworking, keeping a well-equipped basement shop where he spent countless happy hours creating beautiful hand-crafted items for family and friends, along with maintaining 'Dotti's old house'. Bill's greatest love was Dorothy, who later in life developed Multiple Sclerosis and braved several decades of progressive debilitation. Bill was her primary caregiver, partner and cheerleader. They worked together to adapt and maintain meaning while facing ever-challenging circumstances. This commitment was his greatest endeavor. William is survived by his sister, Eleanor; his three children: Edmond (Kathy), Kathy (Jim), Brian (Laurel); and his two beloved grandchildren: Jonathan and Amy. He is preceded in death by his wife of 62 years, Dorothy and his brother, James.

Memorial service details will be available on his guest book at

Published in The Seattle Times on Sept. 23, 2018