WILLIAM SIMPSON

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SIMPSON--William Kelly.

89, died March 24, 2017. Professor of Egyptology Emeritus, Yale University. Born in New York City, educated at The Dalton School, The Buckley School, Phillips Academy and Yale University (B.A. 1947, M.A. 1948, Ph.D. 1954), Kelly served as a Lieutenant in Squadron A of the 101st Armed Calvary NYG from 1947 to 1955. Kelly's initial position in the field of Egyptology was in the Egyptian Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, followed by a Fulbright fellowship in Egypt and a research fellowship at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University. He became Professor of Egyptology and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures at Yale University in 1958. During his tenure at Yale, he also served for nearly twenty years as Curator of Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, during which the collection was substantially increased, the galleries reinstalled, and excavation and recording initiated again at several sites in Egypt including the Pyramids and the Sudan. He also taught in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, and the University of Pennsylvania, and lectured at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Princeton, the College de France, Paris, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon. He was Director of the Pennsylvania-Yale Expedition to Egypt, led the Expedition during the UNESCO campaign to rescue the monuments of Nubia which were flooded during the erection of the High Dam at Aswan, and was subsequently Co- Director of excavations at Abydos and epigraphic missions at Giza. He was a prolific author on subjects of Egyptian art, archeology, and literature. He co-authored with Yale colleague William W. Hallo the standard history of the Ancient Near East, and, with three colleagues, authored a standard anthology of ancient Egyptian literature. Kelly was elected to three terms as President of the International Association of Egyptologists, retiring in 1991. He served as President and later Chairman of the Board of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, as Vice-Chairman of the Board of the American University in Cairo, and as Trustee of the Archaeological Institute of America and the American Research Center in Egypt. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Humanities, Near Eastern Studies, in 1965. He served as a member of the Foreign Currency Program Advisory Council at the Smithsonian Institution from 1966-1969. He received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Research Center in Cairo, Egypt on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary in 1998. He received the Award for Distinguished Service from the American University in Cairo, and the Medal of Honor for Distinguished Service to Egyptology and Egypt from the Egyptian Minister of Culture and the Organizing Committee of the 8th International Congress of Egyptologists in Cairo in 2000. He received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the American University in Cairo in 2001. He was awarded the Augustus Graham Medal by the Brooklyn Museum for service to Egyptology and the Museum in 2003. Kelly was a collector of ancient, post-impressionist, modern and contemporary art, and served as a member of the Collectors Committee of the National Gallery and the International Council of The Museum of Modern Art, the Visiting Committees at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art. He also served as Trustee of Musee Barbier-Muller, Geneva and The Museum of Primitive Art (now part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Kelly's other philanthropic associations included Trusteeships of the Marilyn Milton Simpson Charitable Trust, Rockefeller Family Fund, Historic Hudson Valley, Wrexham Foundation, Inc. (Yale University, as President), Katonah Museum of Art, Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, Friends of the John Jay Homestead, Bedford Riding Lanes Association, and Beaver Dam Sanctuary. He was elected to membership in the American Oriental Society, the American Philosophical Society and the German and Austrian Archeological Institutes. Kelly was a member of The Century Association, Union Club, The University Club, The Metropolitan Opera Club, River Club, Bedford Golf and Tennis Club, Piping Rock Club, Squadron A Association, Sons of the American Revolution, The Elizabethan Club of Yale, The Graduate Club at Mory's (New Haven), and the Union Boat Club (Boston). Kelly's antecedents in the New York region included tradesmen from the Dutch settlement in New Amsterdam. His maternal grandmother, Caroline Chester Knickerbacker came from a prominent Troy, New York family, and her husband, Nathan Todd Porter, Jr. (Yale 1890) was President of the former Montclair Trust Company, New Jersey. His paternal grandfather, Dr. William Kelly Simpson, was on the faculty of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. His mother was Helen-Louise Knickerbacker Porter, and his father was Kenneth Farrand Simpson (Yale 1917) who served New York City as Assistant District Attorney and Congressman of the 17th Congressional "Silk Stocking" District. Kelly married Marilyn Milton on June 19, 1953. He was predeceased by his wife, three sisters, his daughter Laura Thorn, and is survived by his daughter Abby Simpson, three grandchildren, William O'Neill, Eliza Sommerville, Kalynda Klementis, and three great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on, April 29, 2017 at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 382 Cantitoe Street, Bedford, New York 10506. Burial services will be private. Memorial donations may be sent to The American Research Center in Egypt, 8700 Crownhill Blvd., Suite 507, San Antonio, TX 78209, The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, c/o Development Office, 6-8 Charlton Street, Princeton, NJ 08540-5232 or the Arab- American Family Support Center, 150 Court Street, 3rd Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Notes of condolence may be sent to the Simpson Family, One Rockefeller Plaza, Room 2500, New York, NY 10020.

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St Matthew's Episcopal Church
382 Cantitoe St
Bedford, NY 10506
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Published in The New York Times on Mar. 31, 2017