ISPAH Statement on the Passing of Harold W. (Bill) Kohl III

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The ISPAH Executive Committee, on behalf of the ISPAH board and members
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The ISPAH Executive Committee, on behalf of the ISPAH board and members
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It is with great sadness that the International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH) and the physical activity community learns of the passing of Professor Harold W. (Bill) Kohl III. We wish to extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and all who knew and worked with Bill throughout his highly esteemed career.

Bill was the driving force behind the development of ISPAH. He conceived the idea of establishing a global society dedicated to physical activity and health, and through his tenacity and dedication, Bill made that vision a reality. ISPAH was founded in 2008, with Bill serving as the inaugural President until 2014. As Bill often shared, he came up with the idea of an international society for our field during a course he was co-teaching in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and sketched out his vision for it on a napkin! Among the key elements of Bill’s vision for our society was an exclusive focus on physical activity (versus one of many health-related behaviors); a central focus on science (versus an exclusive focus on promotion or advocacy); a public health approach; and a truly global society, with inclusion and representation of physical activity scientists from across the world. ISPAH was delighted to honor Bill with ISPAH Fellow status in 2022 to recognize his outstanding contribution to both the Society and the field.

In addition to his unwavering support for ISPAH, both as President and in subsequent years, Bill was pivotal in many great events and achievements in the field including the development and delivery of the Physical Activity and Public Health (PAPH) course at the University of South Carolina, the work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop surveillance systems for physical activity, and the publication of the first Lancet series on physical activity. Bill was also Co-Editor of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health for many years, during which he drove the journal upwards and into the mainstream, making it a very successful flagship for physical activity and for ISPAH today. Bill also had great patience and commitment to teaching and mentoring the next generation of researchers, and many of us have benefited from Bill’s support and wisdom over the years. He was especially instrumental in supporting and advancing the careers of many young physical activity scientists in Latin America and other low- and middle-income countries.

The field of physical activity has lost an inspiring leader who will be sorely missed. ISPAH will continue to work tirelessly, just as Bill did, to ensure physical activity receives the recognition it deserves as a global health priority. We are grateful to Bill for laying the foundations that allow us to collaborate and thrive in a field that we all feel passionately about.

Thanks Bill.


The ISPAH Executive Committee consists of President Karen Milton, President-Elect Sjaan Gomersall, and Past-President Jasper Schipperijn.

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