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DR. RICHARD L. SIMPSON

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DR. RICHARD L. SIMPSON Obituary
DR. RICHARD L. SIMPSON Dr. Richard (Rich) Simpson, 72, passed away unexpectedly November 21, 2017, at his home in Leawood, KS. Rich was born in Kansas City and remained a life-long resident in the area. Rich was Professor Emeritus at the University of Kansas in Special Education, retiring from full professor status in 2016 after 42 years. He was an active member of the KU faculty, a leader in the profession of special education and autism, and a prolific writer. He authored over 25 professional books and published more than 180 articles that have guided teachers and other practitioners for the last 40 years. He presented extensively at professional conferences and meetings in the United States and abroad, acted as a consultant for numerous programs related to autism, as well as writing and acting as lead investigator on many federal research grants. At the time of his passing he had just completed three additional books and was actively engaged in several professional endeavors. Rich earned his Bachelor's degree in Psychology at Baker University, where he was a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity. During his undergraduate years, Rich served as Student Body President, President of Kappa Sigma and captain of the football team. He took his M.S. in Psychology at Fort Hays State University, and his Ph.D. in Special Education at the University of Kansas, graduating with honors. Early in his career he worked as a school and clinical psychologist and continued as a clinical psychologist at the University of Kansas Medical Center while pursuing his doctoral degree in special education. Rich began working at KU as an Assistant Professor in 1973. During his career at KU, he led the longest running teacher education program in the country for teachers of students with autism. His program produced teachers, teacher educators, researchers, and supervisors who work in schools throughout the nation. His former doctoral and masters students can be found on university campuses across the United States and in foreign countries providing leadership for special education, autism education, and the rights of students with social and emotional disabilities. Other professional roles included coordinating a community mental health outreach program at the Crittenden Center and directing several demonstration programs for students with autism spectrum disorders at the University of Kansas and University of Kansas Medical Center. Rich was selected in 1990 to work in Paraguay through KU's Partnership for the America's professor exchange program. He also did professional presentations and training related to autism with university faculties and graduate students in Taiwan, India, Thailand and many other countries. Rich served as the editor and later a member of the editorial board for Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. He also routinely reviewed articles for publication in other scientific journals including Intervention in School and Clinic, Behavioral Disorders, and Special Education/Teacher Education. In 1983, Rich was a founder of the Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders, a conference and professional organization that focuses on training and research to support students with emotional and behavioral disorders. MSLBD continues today to attract professionals from around the United States to Kansas City with an average conference attendance of well over 1000 participants yearly. Rich received numerous awards and recognitions during his career. In 2002, he was the recipient of the International Council for Exceptional Children Research Award at the organization's international meeting in New York City. In 2012, he was elected to hold the Gene A. Budig Endowed Teaching Professorship of Special Education awarded to distinguished academics at the University of Kansas. In 2014, Rich was named an "Icon in Education" by Ingrams Magazine, where his career and achievements were recognized in an issue dedicated to a select group of professionals at the top of their field. In his leisure, Rich was an avid life-long athlete. He played football at Raytown High School and Baker University, ran track and graduated into half-marathons and triathlons in mid-life. He continued running into his early 60's and enjoyed long distance bicycling. In recent years, golf became his preferred sport and he had several groups of great friends he golfed with regularly. Rich and his wife Janice met at Baker University and married in 1970. They enjoyed their family and numerous friends, an active social life and world-wide travel. They also occasionally worked together authoring/editing books, book chapters, journal articles and doing joint professional presentations. Rich was preceded in death by his father, mother, sister and brother. He leaves his wife of 47 years, Janice DePalma Simpson, and sister-in-law, Pamela DePalma, as well as extended family. He also leaves two feline companions, Bogie and Mica. Additionally he leaves countless great friends, colleagues and former students who added immeasurably to his full life. A celebration of Rich's life will be announced at a later date. Memorial gifts may be made in honor of Rich to: Dr. Richard L. Simpson Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund at Baker University, P.O. Box 65, Baldwin City, KS 66006.
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Published in Kansas City Star on Nov. 26, 2017
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