chapelQuigley Class of '61 Renunion

Biography - 35

Except for 4 years I took off to get my Ph.D., I have been a teacher since 1966. My field is Political Science. I owe much to Fr. Dovick/Fr. Winter  and to the spirited political discussions/arguments John Mondi, John Smith, Jay Champelli and I regularly had coming home on the Lake street El. I suspect we would have the same disagreements today that we had 50 years ago, and that Mondi would still come out on top.

I have been active in local government since 1975. That’s where I have really learned about politics. I won a seat on our local School Board in 1989, and was elected to our County Commission in 2010. In between I lost three elections, but not bad for a known Democrat in the reddest region of our country. I can assure you that winning is much better than losing.

I have been married, divorced, re-married. I have three interesting but disorderly children who fill me with pride and anxiety. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am quite out of step with our church’s move toward fundamentalism. I know that we all know better than this. I deal with my estrangement by attending the Spanish Mass where I cannot understand the sermons.

I am most pleased to able to come to 50+1. Perhaps being among some of the group that made Q such a powerful experience will help me recall who I was and maybe that will help me see how I got to be who I am now.

Joseph W. Corso, 70, 1107 Southwest Ave., died Tuesday morning at Johnson City Medical Center following a brief illness. The son of James and Margaret Fischer Corso, Joe was born in Oak Park, Ill., on July 12, 1942. His family's strong religious heritage led to Joe's secondary education at Quigley Prepartory Seminary in Chicago, where he excelled in basketball. He received his bachelor's degree from Loyola University; master's degree from the University of Notre Dame (cum laude); and doctorate from the University of Missouri.

Joe was a gifted teacher and chose the profession over publishing and other means of career advancement, beginning his career with positions at the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., and Central Methodist University in Fayette, Mo.

Joe came to East Tennessee State University in 1974 and, for the next four decades, served as assistant professor of political science. He worked to develop and support one of the university's flagship endeavors, the Master of City Management Program, and served as its director.

He also served as the ETSU director of the Tennessee Legislative Internship Program, working through both programs to place students in internships which often paid them for their efforts and helped them to complete their studies.

Many students went on from ETSU to serve in positions of responsibility throughout the nation, thanks to the tireless efforts of their teacher and mentor. An outpouring of contacts from many of those students has yielded the common denominator of their teacher's life as almost each one has declared, "Joe changed my life. I would not be what I am today if it were not for Joe."

Joe was a member and president of the Faculty Council for the ETSU College of Arts and Sciences.

Among his most treasured experiences, Joe served for 10 years as producer and moderator for Legislative Chat, the public affairs program produced in cooperation with the ETSU Department of Communication for public television.

Though his students always came first, Joe was also dedicated to public service, and was active in community and political affairs throughout his life. Joe could visit any neighborhood and find friends and supporters, regardless of economic or political status. He was at home with the people, and they supported him in his political endeavors. He was not a "baby boomer," and was proud of it.

Joe was elected to the Johnson City Board of Education. He served as a member and vice chairman of the Washington County Regional Planning Commission. He was a member of the Johnson City Board of Zoning Appeals. He served on the Johnson City Development Authority Land Use and Design Task Force. He was elected to the Washington County Commission and served as chairman of the Rules and Government Operations committees and as a member of the Steering and Education committees.

An enthusiastic encourager of local artists that he deeply respected, Joe collected their works and contributed to their progress. In addition to his parents, Joe was preceded in death by a brother, Rocco Corso; a sister, Mary Lynne Corso Kasch; a grandson, George Campbell; and his first wife, Barbara Scanlan Corso.

Dr. Joseph W. Corso is survived by his wife, Phyllis Jennings Corso; two sons, Gerald Corso, Bladensburg, Md., and Jonathan Corso, Los Angeles; one daughter, Jennifer Corso, Virginia Beach, Va.; two grandchildren, Yalina Corso and Gabe Corso, both of New York; step-daughters, Amy Jennings, Johnson City, and Suzanne Jennings, Knoxville; two brothers, Michael Corso (Beth), Chicago; and James Corso (Amy), Sarasota, Fla.; nieces and nephews: Steve, David, Michael, Jamie, Christine, Matthew, Charlie and Gina; and 11 grand-nieces and nephews.

The Corso family will receive friends from 6:00 until 8:00 P.M. Thursday, January 17, at Appalachian Funeral Home, East Parlor.  The funeral mass for Joseph W. Corso will be held Friday at 2 p.m. at St. Mary's Catholic Parish, 2211 E. Lakeview Dr., with Father Peter Iorio and Father Michael Cummins officiating. Interment will follow in the Oak Hill Cemetery. Honorary pallbearers will be members of the Washington County Commission and former students Matthew Hill, Tim Whaley, Con Cave, Bill Shaffer, Jason Huff, Charlie Stahl, Fred Edens and Jon Ruetz.

Memories and condolences may be left for the Corso family at  Appalachian Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 800 E. Watauga Ave., is serving the Corso family. (423) 928-6111


Joe is a great person who certainly did so much good in his life.  It was a great happiness to see and speak with him at the reunion. Tom McGinlay


When I attended the Quigley reunion, I got to see a lot of friends I had not seen in a long time.  I also got to meet a lot of men I wished I had met a long time ago.  Joe Corso was one of those I met and wished I met long ago.  Thanks again to all those who called us together.  I am sure Joe was grateful.  May the angels lead him in paradise. Ed Barbier


Joe and I spent the weekend of the reunion at Jay's.  We had a long and interesting discussion of our lives since Quigley. Dave Van Thull


I only wish Joe were still here so I could give him a hard time about the “excelled in basketball” bit.  (Frank Cihlar)


Very sorry to hear that another member of the "Giants" has been called home. However, hearing that sad news made me all the more grateful to all of you guys who worked so hard in making the reunion a reality. I was blessed to get to talk to Joe very briefly during the event and I clearly remember how much he seemed to enjoy getting together and reconnecting with the troops. Having the opportunity to see him again makes the memory of what a great guy he was very clear and concrete. Here's hoping that 2013 is good to all of us who remain. God bless. Don Sebek


Dear brothers of our seminary class, lets join in prayer, remembering Joseph, who like us answered the Lords call early in life, and went on,called to teaching History. Our God is AbbaWiseLove the Living God and Lord of History in our personal and communal lives calling us to the Heights of Creative Love in our concrete lives,  and not just following abstract rules legalistically but as artists of our lives following the Divine Artist in whose image we are made and with Whom we are called and led by the Holy Spirit of Jesus, Our Good Shepherd and with His Sacred Heart, the Risen Model for a loving and forgiving creative life of service, using the lights and unique set of gifts and inspirations sent from on high and aimed at sharing finally and fully in the Kingdom of our God/Love/Heart/Home. So, in the words of Thomas Moore," Pray for me as I pray for thee, that we may meet Merrily in Heaven." This is our prayer for Our brother Joseph, his family, and each other, in Jesus Name.Amen,Let it be! Oremus Pro Invicem. Richard McAvoy Semyck, ABD/PhD, LBS.


Jay        Thank you for keeping us informed even though it be with news that we do not look forward to hearing.  I was able to have such a wonderful talk with Joe during the class reunion weekend.  We must be thankful for the blessings that we have received.  May all of you be blessed during this special year of 2013.   PEACE Mel


Jay-Thank you so much for letting us know. Joe was a friend of mine and a member of the St.Catherine group. He was a very fine individual with high ideals and strong beliefs. May God rest his gentle soul. (Jack Smith)