“Confidence has risen dramatically in my character and personality … I tend to find the good in everyone and everything.”
That’s what 2012 University of Dayton graduate John William “Will” Ford Mohr said in his scholarship essay for the American Cancer Society. Mohr, an education major, passed away on Jan. 26 after a five-and-a-half-year battle with osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor.
He was 22 years old.
“He kept us all upbeat, even during the five and a half years he was sick,” said Valerie Mohr, Will Mohr’s mother and associate director of endowment stewardship at UD.
“He was laidback,” his mother said. “He approached life like he was going to be there.”
Will Mohr had six separate surgeries, five of which were during his time as a UD student.
Valerie Mohr said that she can only think of one or two times that he was down about it. He was always smiling, she said.
Will Mohr worked as a teacher at Smith Middle School in Vandalia and substituted for Huber Heights and Tipp City schools until health problems prevented him from continuing, according to his mother. His goal was to work as a middle school math and social studies teacher. Valerie Mohr said that when people told him that teaching middle school age students is really challenging, he would respond that every age has its challenges.
“Teaching came natural to him,” Valerie Mohr said. “He had good reviews when he did his student teaching.”
Though Mohr struggled with his health during his four years at UD, he spent time as an education tutor at DECA and as a peer mentor for the UD School of Education. Like any other UD student, Mohr enjoyed hanging out with friends, watching television and going to basketball games. He also spent time with his girlfriend Courtney Perkins, an education major and 2012 graduate.
“We met on the first day of classes,” said Perkins, who is currently teaching at Fairmont High School in Kettering. “It was our first class freshman year, and he just happened to sit in front of me.”
Mohr and Perkins walked back to Stuart Hall together and started talking. The two began dating shortly after.
Perkins said that it was amazing how many people did not know Mohr had cancer. People did not notice it because he tried not to make it a big deal, she said. Even his roommates didn’t know for a long time.
“I was lucky to have met him and to have been a part of it,” Perkins said.
Valerie Mohr said Will Mohr never gave up in his battle with cancer. If there was something new to try to help his cancer, he was ready to try it.
“His struggle was big and he did not win it,” Valerie Mohr said. “But a lot of people have struggles, and they should look to Will, and be ready to fight the fight.”
In honor of Mohr’s love for teaching, an endowment scholarship, the Will Mohr Scholarship, has been set up for middle school education majors at UD.
Memorial contributions may be sent to the University of Dayton designated for the Will Mohr Scholarship.