Sorby, J. Richard (1911-2001)

Sorby, J. Richard (1911-2001)

Date Updated




Academic Rank


Year Retired from SJSU


Educational Background

University of Northern Colorado, 1952 MA

University of Northern Colorado, 1937 BA

Art Institute of Chicago, Summer Sessions

University of the Americas, Mexico, D.F., Summer Sessions

University of California, Los Angeles, Summer Sessions

University of Colorado, Summer Sessions

Teaching Experience

San Jose State University, 1959-1972

Southern Utah State University, guest Prof., Summer 1960

University of Denver, 1946-1959

U.S.N.R. Recognition Officer, 1943-1946

University of Nebraska, 1941-1943

Greeley Colorado High School, 1937-1941

Administrative and Professional Experience

Professional Artist, producing and exhibiting in national and regional painting exhibitions since 1947 National Watercolor Competition. My paintings have won prizes and purchase awards in many art shows and are now in permanent collections of many public galleries and art museums, including the William Rockhill Nelson Art Museum, Kansas City; Joslyn Museum in Omaha; Denver Art Museum; University of Utah; University of Northern Colorado, to name a few, plus several mural commissions.

Selected Publications

None except for the paintings mentioned above, and two commissions from Ford Motor Company for illustrations in watercolor for Lincoln-‑Mercury and Ford Times publications.

Personal Commentary

I was born in Duluth, MN, near the end of the year, 1911, and have been painting and working with art materials as far back as I can remember. I grew up in a small iron ore mining town, Chisholm, MN. Richly endowed by the mining companies, our schools afforded the finest teachers, buildings, and materials available offering many so‑called "fringe" courses like art and drama both of which captured and held my attention for the rest of my life.

While in junior high school, I was commissioned by several elementary teachers to paint murals in colored chalk on the borders above the blackboards. The subject matter was often geographical or from children's storybooks. In 1980, when I flew back to my 50th class reunion, I was amazed to see those chalk murals still on the walls and colors as brilliant as when I put them there so many years ago. During my first 4 years as an art teacher at Greeley High School, I discovered how rewarding it was to help young people discover themselves through art and creativity.., so, the "art" of teaching became of almost equal importance as that of my own career in the art world.

As for my theatrical interest...I played the lead in most of 30‑some productions, and designed many of the stage settings. I have a sterling silver medal on which is engraved "The University of Minnesota‑‑to Richard Sorby in the recognition of the Statewide honor of second place in the contest for Juvenile Lead in the production of Rostand's L'AIGLON, July 17‑18, 1931." This was the first time that the heavy role was to be played by a young man. As understudy to the first place winner, I was awarded full tuition for the University's summer program "Dramatic Arts Round­table," with courses by professional theater people including personal coaching in the part of Napoleon's son, the duke of Reichstadt by English actor, Ernest Lawford (father of film star, Peter Lawford).

I am grateful to God for so many blessings He has given me to enrich my life. I was first blessed by having a gracious and loving Mother who encouraged my creative endeavors. I was blessed again when I met and fell in love with another devoted teacher of art, and a very fine watercolor painter. We were married in 1950 in Denver where I was teaching at the University. We built a mountain home and studio in Glen Haven, near Estes Park, CO. We spend most of our summers there‑‑and winters in Rancho Bernardo, at Casa de las Campanas since 1988‑‑and I am still painting.

Date Completed: 12/96

Adapted from: Biographies of Retired Faculty San Jose State University 1997: A Project of the Emeritus Faculty Association of San Jose State University. San Jose, CA: The University, 1997.


Sorby, J. Richard (1911-2001)