Our Stars – George Coorey, An Advocate for People with Visual Impairments

By Joyce Rogers

I first met George Coorey during my college days in the 1960s when I bowled with the Cincinnati Blind Bowlers. George was an avid bowler and a leader in the American Blind Bowlers Association. Besides being kind, friendly, and funny; he seemed to personify all that people with visual impairments or anyone could become: happy, successful, and compassionate. To my younger self, George was the kind of person I valued and admired: George was a father (of six kids no fewer); he worked as a professional musician to support his family; he was a passionate advocate in the arena of justice and equity for people who are blind or visually impaired; and he made people laugh with his wit and humor. I am not sure about his bowling ability.

George Coorey was one of the founders of our Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the American Council of the Blind of Ohio in 1979, and he remained an active member all his life. The American Council of the Blind (ACB) is a national, state, and local organization of blind and sighted people working together to make life better for us all. One of my last and most cherished memories of George is his standing up in August of 2009 and speaking passionately before the Board of Trustees of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County in support of saving our wonderful and much loved Cincinnati Library for the Blind, one of only two libraries for the blind in Ohio. George left this world on April 22, 2010, at the age of eighty-three, but his spirit and courage have forever made this, sometimes, crazy world a better place.

Although George was blind from birth, he certainly seemed to see a lot of good in the world as well as seeing ways of making it better. George was a graduate of Miami University with a degree in music, a graduate of whom Miami can always be proud. George was a loving and caring father and grandfather of whom his family will always have cherished memories. One quotation on display at George’s visitation was from a grandchild who said, “I will miss you, Grandpa, for all those stupid questions you asked us, questions that you knew we knew the answers to, just so we could feel smart.” To members of ACB, George will forever be a model to inspire us, to challenge us, and to lead us forward in our never-ending tasks.

When our chapter worked on getting audible traffic signals installed in downtown Cincinnati, when we worked with Hamilton County on making voting machines accessible, and when we needed to tell the library board of trustees a thing or two about how we loved our library for the blind; George was there. When we got H.R.3101 and S.3304 passed in Washington D.C. this summer, we are sure George was there with us feeling our elation, our triumph, and our power. On October 5, President Obama signed that legislation, the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act into law, so we people who are blind or visually impaired and we who are deaf/blind have greater access to new technology. We thank you, George, for your spirit of advocacy and your vision of “liberty and justice for all.”