Gora earned a Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Miami and studied conducting with Frederick Fennell. Following two years of teaching public school in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, he completed a Master of Music Education Degree from the University of Florida. Soon after, he resumed his studies in conducting and wind literature with Fennell at the University of Miami and earned a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in saxophone performance.
Gora was as an accomplished saxophonist and traveled extensively throughout the world during the course of his life performing and teaching. He spent his first college teaching job in Modesto, California but was Director of Bands at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina from 1976 to 2006. Gora was a dedicated teacher who loved his students with a passion. He fought for music in the schools and its importance to every student. His wry whit, smile and love made an impact on many. Upon retiring in 2006, Gora was granted emeritus status by the Appalachian State University Board of Trustees and was inducted into the North Carolina Bandmasters Hall of Fame in 2014.
In June 2006, Gora and his beloved wife, Virginia, moved to New Smyrna Beach, Florida where he was happiest fishing on his boat with family and friends.
He was preceded in death by his father, Nathaniel; brother, Bruce; and is survived by his wife of 48 years, Virginia Ragsdale Gora; daughter, Jennifer Baxter (Michael); sons, Robert (Richelle) and David (Margaret); mother, Thelma; brother, Michael; grandsons, Robert Alexander Gora and Graham William Gora; along with many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
There will be a Memorial Service at Appalachian State University Hayes School of Music on October 2, 2016 at 3:00 in the afternoon.
In lieu of flowers sent to the family, donations may be made to the William A. Gora Principal Player scholarship in care of the ASU Foundation, P.O. Box 32014, Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C. 28608.