RORISON, Terry R.
Terry R. Rorison, volunteer, artist, teacher, and entrepreneur, dedicated his life to teaching and the arts from designing and supplying terra-cotta on well-known buildings such as Grand Central Station in New York City, to volunteering his time in the Pittsburgh area in various ways. Rorison, 74, passed away peacefully on November 16, 2020 at the Veterans Hospital in Aspinwall. He lived his life to the fullest, giving back to the community and befriending everyone he encountered. At the age of 72, he founded Next Tech Pittsburgh, a nonprofit that offered free 3D design training to transitioning veterans. Its mission was to train and assist veterans with learning and achieving CAD certification in order to secure a job as a CAD designer. After retirement, Rorison, a distinguished ceramic potter, volunteered for several years as the artist in residence at the Father Ryan Arts Center (FRAC), where he donated equipment and materials, supported the adult and youth pottery classes, repaired equipment and donated the clay. “It’s really important that arts are available to people who can’t afford to go to schools that have arts programming,” said Rorison. “This is my way of helping out.” His roots were in McKees Rocks, where his parents also grew up. He gave back to “The Rocks” community because of his family connection, and to honor his daughter and late son. Rorison was very active in the Western Pennsylvania Potters Community, which he helped found as a way to connect potters to learn, socialize, and gain support. Additionally, he worked on the American Potters Oral History project, which documented the life and work of ceramic artists and teachers through a video series. Before his volunteer life, Rorison founded Superior Clay Corporation, where he spent 23 years handcrafting architectural terra-cotta. His work can be seen on prominent buildings including the main building of Ellis island, Union Station in Washington DC, the Union Trust Building and Rodef Shalom Temple in Pittsburgh. Before that, as a young man during the Vietnam War era, Rorison discovered a love for teaching and helping others in the Army’s Preparatory Training program, teaching draftees how to read. After pursuing a Masters degree in Reading and Language Arts at the University of Pittsburgh, he launched an education program and taught reading at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. He reveled in the moment when his students discovered their ability. “ When you saw that twinkle in their eye, the realization that they knew they could do it, it was profound,” During this time, Rorison was introduced to pottery. He bought a wheel and returned to Pittsburgh, working at the Manchester Craftsmans Guild, exhibiting his sculptures and pottery at art galleries and shows in the area, including the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Rorison is survived by Chris, Sara, Elena and Bella, his beloved adopted family, who welcomed him into their home, and with whom he lived for the last 10 years of his life. In accordance with Terry’s wishes, services and interment in the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies will be private. Memorial donations to: Fr. Ryan Arts Center, 420 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks PA 15136. Arrangements entrusted to Hershberger -Stover Inc. Funeral Home, Crafton. 412–921-0213 www.hershberger-stoverfh.com
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Father Ryan Arts Center
420 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks PA 15136