University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Dr. Kay Reist, Professor Emerita of History at Pitt-Johnstown

With great sadness, we announce that Dr. Kay Reist, Professor Emerita of History at Pitt-Johnstown, passed away at her home this week. Dr. Reist joined the faculty at UPJ in 1988 as an assistant professor of history. She was promoted to the rank of associate professor in 1994. Dr. Reist served as the chair of the Department of History and was a member of Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society, and Phi Kappa Phi, the International Honor Society. She was a long-time officer for UPJ’s chapter of Phi Kappa Phi. 

“UPJ mourns the loss and celebrates the life of Dr. Kay Reist, an outstanding teacher and scholar, a caring advisor, and a beloved mentor, colleague, and friend to so many in the UPJ family. For over three decades, Professor Reist, the quintessential teacher-scholar, guided, shaped, and transformed the lives of countless students, deepening their critical thinking skills, introducing them to new worlds, and preparing them for lifelong learning and success. We extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends, and loved ones,” stated Pitt-Johnstown President Dr. Jem Spectar.

Dr. Reist was an excellent teacher, a rigorous scholar, and a congenial colleague and friend. She demonstrated that with a quiet and steady manner. She revealed to our students a part of the world and a part of history that few had been exposed to in high school—ancient and modern China, Japan, and east Asia. Her expertise spanned the globe to Russia and England as well. She was a skilled lecturer and storyteller. 

Dr. Reist was also a published scholar in post-World War II US military history in Asia. She was a regular presenter and panelist at military history conferences, and she was an elected member of the Board of Trustees of the Society for Military History.  

Professor Robert Matson, Chair of the Department of History and a close colleague of Dr. Reist, said, “In addition to her scholarly achievements and dedication to the classroom, Kay was a dedicated mentor. She was fiercely loyal to her students, and many of them sought her advice, not merely on their assignments and class schedules but on their post-graduation plans and life in general. She was generous in giving her time and experience.” 

Dr. Reist received her bachelor’s degree in history from Muskingum College and master’s degree in history from Ohio State University. When she was a wife and mother of two young boys, she drove the long commute from her home in southern Ohio to take classes to complete her Ph.D. in history at Ohio State. 

The UPJ family extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Kay Reist.