Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v07n05)
Donald & Gerry Koors biography - by Mario Morone
posted: Mar. 05, 2010
Distinguished Indiana School for the Blind alumni Donald Koors recalled his time there as a student: "I was involved in the student newspaper and wrote some articles. We produced the paper in Braille and had a school sponsor who oversaw newspaper production while we were involved in distributing it. There were athletic programs. In the mid-1950s, they began a wrestling team that I was involved in for a couple of years," he said. "We had a class group. We didn't have a student council at that time. Our class is the first one that I'm aware of that took a class trip to Washington, D.C. during our senior year," he noted.
A native of Decatur County, Koors graduated from ISB in 1957. There were a total of nine students in his graduating class that included his future wife, the former Gerry Sauer. They both went to Purdue University where he earned a bachelor's degree in sociology with minors in psychology and government in 1961. Gerry also graduated from Purdue that same year with a bachelor's degree in sociology and a minor in psychology. They were married in 1962 and are the parents of seven children and have seven grandchildren.
Donald Koors and Gerry Sauer (pictured third and fourth from the left) visited Washington, D.C. in 1957 with their ISB classmates.
image courtesy of Donald & Gerry Koors
Koors described his work after graduation: "I started my career working as a counselor in vocational rehabilitation services with adults who were visually impaired. In 1971, I became a supervisor of the program working with adults who were blind and visually impaired. In 1981, when there were some administrative changes, I became a program consultant in rehabilitative services, primarily assisting the agency in developing policies and procedures for blind and visually impaired individuals and provided in-services training. In addition to that, I became the agency specialist in funding and coordination of services for individuals with disabilities enrolled in programs of post-secondary education," Koors explained.
"When the Rehabilitation Act was amended in 1973, it required that clients seeking funding from vocational rehabilitation services for post-secondary education must seek financial aid from other sources because other federal and state sources were available. The agency developed a working relationship with financial aid administrators of universities and colleges in Indiana. Policies and procedures were jointly developed between the agency and the post-secondary educational institutions for the use of vocational rehabilitation funds for post-secondary education for individuals with disabilities. Annually, the agency provided some funding for approximately 4,000 individuals with disabilities for post-secondary education," he said.
"The positive experiences I had with teachers and all staff certainly was a factor in my being prepared for life after ISB. If I didn't have the opportunity to go there, I probably wouldn't have had the chance to go to college and have a successful career. Even though many students who are blind and visually impaired are educated in local school systems, there is still a need for ISBVI and its faculty's expertise in providing education to blind and visually impaired individuals," he noted. "The most rewarding thing about my work is knowing that individuals the agency helped were able to achieve success," he added. He has been a school board member since December of 2002, appointed by the late Governor Frank O'Bannon. He retired from the State of Indiana's Family Services and Social Administration in 2003. (ISB added Visually Impaired to its name earlier this decade to encompass the diversity of students they serve since each individual has different needs).
Gerry Koors recalled some of her treasured memories as an ISB student: "The most memorable were the music teachers that we had when we were there. I took piano lessons from Mabel Leive for ten years from third grade through high school and played piano for the school orchestra. The high school performed an operetta each spring. Octavia Landers taught school orchestra, violin and woodwind instruments. Spring concerts were held annually where students played. We were also encouraged to get up on stage, act and sing like the kids in the public schools. We loved it and we had a ball. In second grade, I played the lead role in "Snow Queen" and also acted in plays called "Green Cheese," "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "The Old Woman Who Lived in the Shoe."
Donald and Gerry Koors are among many couples who met at ISBVI as it has made a lasting impact on their lives and in the community in which they live.