Rev. William F. Fore Ph.D.
1928 - 2020
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The Rev. William F. Fore, Ph.D., a longtime advocate for open media and the public interest, died Thursday, July 30, 2020 in Dallas, TX. He was 92.

Bill was born on May 30, 1928 to parents Frank K. Fore and Billie C. Fore in Memphis, Texas. The family moved to California in 1933. He was a talented pianist and organist and performed at over 300 weddings. He was voted most popular, most likely to succeed, and student body president at Beverly Hills High School. Future wife Elizabeth Stauffer (Betty) was also voted most popular and they were high school sweethearts. They married in 1952.

Bill earned degrees from Occidental College, the American University in Cairo, Yale University Divinity School, and Columbia University. He was ordained in the United Methodist Church. William Romanowski, writing in his book Reforming Hollywood, noted that Dr. Fore "worked tirelessly throughout his career on behalf of the public interest and film and broadcasting."

For 25 years Bill was the Director of the Broadcasting and Film Commission of the National Council of Churches. Throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s, his unit produced more a hundred network programs annually. He negotiated with the Federal Communication Commission, members of Congress and the heads of the networks to improve the balance of news and information on TV and increase the amount of quality children's programming.

From 1972 to 1975 Bill served as Chair of the National Advisory Council of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, testifying on the behalf of the public interest and thus helped secure adequate funding for the PBS and NPR. He joined the United Church of Christ in a suit that required the FCC to give standing to all legitimate public interest groups. He secured interdenominational support for the famous WLBT suit in which the court revoked the station's license for failure to meet the needs and interests of its black listeners and viewers. He also participated in the landmark Red Lion decision, which required stations to provide all sides of issues of public importance.

In 1971, Bill co-founded The National Coalition Against Censorship, and served as chair for seventeen years. The Coalition continues to aid local libraries and other organizations facing censorship of books and films.

Bill served as President of the World Association for Christian Communication from 1982 to 1988. From 1984 to 1989 he taught communications at Yale Divinity School and in 1998 and 2001 he taught communication at United Theological College in Bangalore, India.

One of Bill's projects continues to this day. Seeing the need for quality books and articles for use in developing nations, he started Religion Online in 1997. Today www.religion-online.org continues to attract more than a million visitors per year.

Bill is survived by his wife Betty, four children - Christine, Peter (Sharon), John (Toni), David (Jane) - and eight grandchildren. He was an inspiration and a joy to all who knew him with his bright intellect, deep wisdom, good humor, and moral focus.

Published in New York Times on Aug. 5, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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15 entries
September 13, 2020
I was a colleague and co-worker with Bill at the BFC (later Communication Commission) of the National Council of Churches from 1972 until he left in 1984. One thing I have often told people is that he was the most collegial and supportive boss I have even known. He knew how to boost you and get the best out of you. One thing not noted in the obituary is that Bill received the Pioneer Award in Religious Communication from the North American Broadcast Section of the World Association for Christian Communication in 1991 -- one of only about 10 people to receive this prestigious award. I greatly treasure the time I spent working for and with Bill Fore.
Dave Pomeroy
Coworker
September 12, 2020
It was my privilege to follow in Bill's gigantic footsteps at the National Council of Churches Communication Commission and as President, of the World Association for Christian Communication. In my later role as General Secretary of WACC it was my privilege to install Bill as an Honorary Life Member of WACC. It was under Bill's leadership that I served as a committee member on the Motion Picture Rating System, a task force to study the psychological impact of media, particularly violence in the media, the 1980s restructuring of WACC governance. I smile every time I think of Bill's oft used phrase in speaking about media, communication and its influence on American life: "Follow the money!" He was right. Through WACC it was my pleasure to get to know Betty as well. Many lives have been touched by their lives well-lived and I count mine one of them. "Condolences" seems like the wrong word for remembering such a rich and enriching man...perhaps "thank you" says it all.
Randy Naylor
Coworker
August 17, 2020
Betty, Peter, and the Fore family. I'm deeply sorry for your loss. My life is richer for having spent time interviewing and interacting with Bill and reading his correspondence while he was with the NCC. He was authentic; a man of integrity.
Bill Romanowski
Friend
August 16, 2020
Bill was one of the most authentic human beings I have ever met. He worked tirelessly to understand what it is “to be human”, questioning his own biases and our collective ones with humility and courage . He desired to treat every human being he encountered with integrity and the gift of a listening ear. The world is a better place because of him and his legacy indeed lives on in his work, and, even more importantly, in the family and friend relationships he imbued with the gift of life. May he continue on his path of happiness toward the source of all happiness after fighting the good fight.
Tim Blesse
Friend
August 16, 2020


Dad, you were many things, not least among them, my father and in that role, how I have loved you.

You taught me to recognize and love nature and marvel and comprehend the curiosities and wonders of science. You shared your celebration and joy of music and introduced me to the world of books and all medium sources of mankind’s cultural and historical expression of art and communication. You and Mom provided a family for me to love and experiences to remember. You offered the pathways to wisdom.

You taught me compassion and unconditional love and to appreciate the simple things of life including good food, good company, doing well by others, good conversation, naps, clean water and walking in the woods. You showed me how to reach for the mysteries and cushion of laughter and stoicism when confronted with uncertainty, pain, sadness, confusion and disappointment. And of course, to find joy and shared laughter when things are funny and good and I am happy.

You guided me to be strong, introspective, thoughtful and hopefully kind, and you were an example of patience, generosity, love and compassion. You helped me understand how to process information; how to think, consider and make decisions. You helped me to fairly examine confrontation, anger and contrary perspectives; to address them fairly within myself as sincerely as I can. You taught me the meanings and wonder of words and conceptualizations.

Thank you for how you have always been the person who best explained things, for being my father, always there when I needed your council. And for who I am. I will miss you Dad but you will always be in my heart.

Christine Fore
Daughter




Christine Fore
Daughter
August 14, 2020
Motion Picture Rating System

Dad was proud of his work with the motion picture rating system. The following paragraph is his summary of this effort.

Facing the threat of a national film censorship board in 1968, the Broadcasting and Film Commission joined forces with the National Catholic Office of Motion Pictures to publicly support the Motion Picture Association’s new Code and Rating Program saying, “it is better to support self-regulation than risk the emergence of nationwide censorship.” In May of 1970, the two groups announced they were withdrawing official endorsement of the system although they remained a “friendly critic” for almost half a century.

Dad’s activities on behalf of the National Council of Churches with the Motion Picture Association of America are treated in William D. Romanowski’s, Reforming Hollywood: How American Protestants Fought for Freedom at the Movies (Oxford, 2012). Chapter 10 describes the NCC’s Broadcasting and Film Commission (BFC) involvement under Dad’s leadership. Romanowski wrote Dad “worked tirelessly on behalf of the public interest in film and broadcasting.” (page 157)

Rev. James Wall, former Editor of The Christian Century was Dad’s long-term collaborator in this effort. I was able to contact him recently to notify him of Dad’s death and he graciously provided the following:

“Bill Fore was the heart and soul of the National Council of Churches communication program for many years and one of my dearest friends. We got to know each other by working together on the motion picture rating system. He will be missed but remembered fondly and will go down in church history as a leader in communications both within the church and the secular world.”

Peter Fore
Son
August 12, 2020
As a German broadcaster I remember Bill with great gratitude as a geographically distant but intensely close friend. We met when we both became members of the Communications Committee of the World Council of Churches. He impressed me soon by the wide perspectives of his thinking und his practical abilities to relate them to real politics. Since that time we had some intense occasions to celebrate and work together, and in between we kept contact by almost regular extensive phonecalls to discuss, as we say, God and the World. Bill was a man with conviction and drive. His thoughts and actions were led by an unceasing desire to qualify public life, politically by his work with, for and against the big television companies, and after his retirement also in religion through his library of substantial theology

Dr. Manfred Linz
Wuppertal Institut fuer Klima, Umwelt, Energie
Manfred Linz
Friend
August 12, 2020
I was mostly impressed by his easy going attitude, his unending smiles and the youthfulness which emanated every time he and Allen Austill were together. Their CB exchanges will ring in my ears as long as I live. Dr. W. Fore will be missed by many, especially his loving family whom I had the fortune to meet some 50 plus years ago.
My sincerest sympathies to the whole family. May "Bill" rest in eternal peace as he has done in his real life.
Mohamed Bahouali
Friend
August 12, 2020
I will miss you tremendously.
Pamela A. Harris
Friend
August 12, 2020
I have wonderful memories of spending time with Bill and Betty and your glorious family a few years ago at Estes. It was GREAT renewing our Cape Cod camping adventures. Bill's intellectual prowess combined with his warm heart and sincere interest in our families well being has always been a bright shining light in my life. Thank you for this beautiful site honoring Bill's wonderful pioneering spirit and joy.
Becky Austill-Clausen
Friend
August 11, 2020
The family tentatively plans to hold a memorial service for Dad in July 2021 in Estes Park, Colorado.
Peter Fore
Son
August 10, 2020
William B. Fore was one of the few theologians who recognized the importance of mass media and the role that they would play in the church and in society very early on. He understood mass media as a source of cultural life and as an important part of the public sphere in free societies. With growing concern he observed and commented on the decay of the goal to sustain such a public. Again and again, he encouraged his German friends, among whom we are thankful to be able to count ourselves, to keep the access points to the public and to mass media open. He encouraged us to resist the commercialisation and instrumentalisation for ideological purposes of mass media. Bill was a representative of the America that we admired and that we sought to learn from. With sadness and gratitude we remember the days that we could spend with Bill and his wife Betty since the 1970s. We have lost a great thinker of freedom and a precious friend. Prof. Dr. Irmela Schneider (Berlin, Germany)
Prof. Dr. Norbert Schneider (Berlin, Germany)
Irmela + Norbert Schneider
August 9, 2020
The caption for the previous photo memory is:

William F. Fore testifying before the Senate Hearings on Funding Public Broadcasting, 1972
Dave Fore
Son
August 9, 2020
Dave Fore
Son
August 7, 2020
Please except my deepest sympathies to you and your family at this time of grieving.
Simone Taylor
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