William Jerome “Bill” Katorkas
February 23, 1954 - January 6, 2022
“To me!” he would toast, raising a glass in his own honor.
“To you, Bill,” was the inevitable reply.
“To me!” he would reiterate. “To me.”
And so it was that William Jerome Katorkas – “Bill” to all who knew him – would hold court at any social gathering or celebration, of which there were many and much to celebrate throughout his resilient life of 67 years.
Bill passed away Jan. 6, 2022, after a brief illness.
A longtime resident of Newark, DE, Bill was born in Scranton, PA in 1954, graduated from the University of Scranton in 1980 and was a devoted family man, public servant, man of faith, understated prankster and life of the party every day thereafter.
Bill adored Ann (née Williams), his wife of 41 years, and the beautiful family they built together in Delaware after meeting and marrying in Scranton. He was a proud and loving father to daughter Samantha and twin sons Adam and Alex.
Always their biggest supporter, Bill was there to coach or cheer on his children in all of their many activities – sports competitions, dance recitals, gymnastics events, concerts and theater shows.
Bill was always up to something. He would stay up late at night putting together elaborate LEGO structures and train layouts to surprise his boys in the morning. He could also be counted on to play tag with his kids inside the grocery store – not just playing, but starting the game, and he was there to rage with his teen sons at heavy metal concerts.
Later, he became a proud “Pap-Pap” to grandsons Elias, Wyatt and Levi, (sons of Samantha and her husband Cristian Quesada). He beamed as he spoke of them, and enjoyed every moment he spent with them.
Bill’s devotion to family knew no bounds, as he welcomed in, deeply loved and fiercely protected extended family – siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews and anyone else in need of a roof, a meal, a mentor or a friend.
Bill dedicated his life to serving others. He served his country as a veteran of the U.S. Army, and served his community as a career law enforcement officer, retiring as Captain of the University of Delaware Police after a distinguished 29-year career that began as a patrol cop. He was particularly proud of his efforts to carve out a stronger, more sustainable relationship between the police department and minority student populations on campus.
Bill was honored to attend the FBI National Academy in 1999 where he graduated with both the newly found skills in hostage negotiations, and a broken elbow suffered while playing goalie on the soccer team there.
He volunteered often, including annually with the Delaware Special Olympics, which was near to his heart.
Throughout his life, Bill was a man of faith. He and Ann attended Sunday Mass each week. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, and a proud and active member of the church choir.
In 2004, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Leukemia that had progressed rapidly before it was caught. He was truly on death’s doorstep at that time, unconscious and seemingly slipping away. A woman known as a Spiritual Daughter of St. Padre Pio came to pray over him. That night, with no medical explanation, he woke up and asked for food. It was a miracle. With continued prayer, positivity and the relentless support of Ann, he made a full recovery and was blessed with 18 more years of life.
He vowed to value every day of that extra time, and was committed to performing an act of kindness each day. In that time, he was blessed to see all of his children graduate high school, walk Samantha down the aisle at her wedding, share a beer with his sons on their 21st birthday, travel the country and be a Pap-Pap to his grandsons.
“I’m just happy to be here,” he would reply whenever anyone asked him how he was doing. And he meant it.
Fittingly, everyone he knew or met was happy he was here, too, as he made everything more fun. He never met a waiter or waitress he wouldn’t chat up, nor attended a gathering where he wouldn’t hold court.
Bill was a good time. He was likable. Funny. Charismatic. A kind spirit with a calm demeanor. He was a people watcher and top-tier conversationalist. Bill was always talking with people and learning their stories.
He was so notoriously chatty that his family developed a running joke: No one wanted to go on after-dinner neighborhood walks with Bill because he wouldn’t make it past the first driveway on the street before he was talking to neighbors, and the family never actually got to walk anywhere. In fact, they are unsure if he has even made it into heaven yet, as he is likely still at the gates chatting up St. Peter.
That chattiness did pay off when — while on duty, he was responding to an incident on campus– Bill struck up a conversation with a witness who happened to be a pro wrestler. That led to a fitting side gig for Bill as the official ring announcer of the East Coast Wrestling Association, where he was known to fans throughout the region as “Billy K,” and was inducted into that association’s Hall of Fame in 1994. Attending those wrestling shows was a childhood highlight for his kids – prime seating to see Dad in a tuxedo under the spotlight with a microphone in hand, and sometimes getting caught up in the action himself. (“Holy Jeez!”)
Bill was an avid collector of pharmaceutical pens, cigar boxes, and (much to the chagrin of his family) creepy porcelain clown dolls. He loved wearing driving caps, drinking black coffee and sipping Sambuca. Sometimes all three at the same time. He was a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, NASCAR, soccer, golf, and of course, he always kept his standing lunch dates with “The Young and the Restless,” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.”
The world lost a great man on January 6. And so, for his family and many friends here to celebrate him, and for those with whom he has surely reunited in heaven, we all raise a glass.
To you, Bill. … To you.
A visitation for family and friends will be held from 12 noon until 1 pm on Saturday, February 5, 2022, at St. Margaret of Scotland R.C. Church, 2431 Frazer Road, Newark, DE 19702, where a Funeral Mass will be held at 1 pm. Face coverings will be required for all those in attendance, regardless of vaccination status. Interment will be held privately in Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
Any family members or friends who are unable to attend the services for Bill can live stream the service by clicking here.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Bill’s memory to St. Margaret of Scotland’s St. Vincent de Paul Food Closet, also located at 2431 Frazer Road, Newark, DE 19702.