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Richard "Dick" J. Simpson

June 3, 1936 - August 17, 2018


RICHARD “Dick” J. SIMPSON
June 3, 1936 – August 17, 2018
During the last several months Dick fought hard to overcome many health challenges.   He often said, “I’m a fighter, not a quitter”. His unwavering strength and perseverance was an inspiration to all who knew him.  Sadly, surrounded by his loving family, he finally lost the battle.
Dick was born in Salem, Oregon on June 3, 1936 to parents Garlen “Spot” and Carolyn Simpson.  He lived in Salem his entire life. He attended Richmond Elementary, Leslie Junior High, and in 1954 graduated from Salem High School. In high school Dick lettered as Manager for the swimming and track teams.  At 15 years old, he was one of the youngest amateur radio operators to receive his license.
From 1954 to 1957, Dick studied Liberal Arts at Willamette University.  While at Willamette he joined the ZAE fraternity and was proud to be a life-long member. From 1957 to 1959, he attended George Williams College in Chicago, IL and received his Bachelor of Science degree.  From 1959 to 1961 he attended Northwestern University where he received his Master of Arts degree.
After completing his education in 1961, Dick went to work as a Counselor at MacLaren School for Boys, working there until 1964.  In 1965 Dick was officially hired as Youth Director of the Salem YMCA although his involvement with the “Y” started as a Camper and later as a Camp Counselor at Camp Silver Creek.  As part of his role as Youth Director, he was Director of Camp Silver Creek.  Dick left the “Y” in 1974, but he remained connected to the organization throughout his life, serving on the YMCA Board and the Camp Silver Creek Alumni Committee, receiving their prestigious “Heart and Soul” Award in 2014. In 1974 Dick started as a Counselor/Case Manager at Oregon State Correctional Institute, working there for 25 years until retiring in 1999.
It was clear to all who knew Dick that his true passion was volunteer and service work. He was dedicated to supporting children and families wherever the need presented itself.  In the 70’s and 80’s he opened his home to become a foster parent to several young men. Dick became an active supporter of the Salvation Army and volunteered many hours with youth at the Kroc Center. He became a resource to immigrant Russian families and provided mentoring and support to them for many years. Dick’s love of music was well known and from 1996 to 2009 he was a volunteer for the Salem Boys’ Choir.  Throughout these experiences Dick made a positive difference in many people’s lives as well as developing life-long friendships.
 At a young age, Dick discovered that his family had a rich background in the early history of Salem, Oregon.  He traveled throughout the state collecting memorabilia, especially items relating to Salem’s history.  This became an interest that he shared with anyone who would listen. 
Dick’s faith was very important to him.   He was a Christian and lived his life modeling Christian values.  He was a life-long member of the First Presbyterian Church of Salem, but it was not unusual for him to attend different churches. Through this spiritual curiosity he developed many meaningful relationships.
Dick is survived by his sister Toni Greg Simpson; nephews Josh Noemi Welborn and Jeremy Bridget Welborn; his great niece Lili and great nephews Sam and Parker; and his cousin Dan Lee Simpson.
Dick will be deeply missed by us all, but the essence of who he was; his open-hearted generosity; his “mischievous” sense of humor; his love of history and anything quirky or unique; his devotion to a higher power – all this will be with us forever. 
Our Family would like to thank the care givers who so compassionately cared for Dick in his final months.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Dick’s name to the Salem YMCA Camp Alumni Association, P.O. Box 5625, Salem, OR 97304 or the Kroc Center, 1865 Bill Frey Drive NE, Salem, OR 97302 or the charity of your choice.   A Celebration of Life will take place at Salem Golf Club, 2025 Golf Course Rd. S. off S. River Rd from 2:00 to 4:00 on Friday, September 14, 2018.  Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service is assisting the family.
 

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On rare occasions a community welcomes a leader into its fold that makes a positive difference to so many, yet asks for little, to nothing, in return.
Such was the case with Mr Simpson.

During the turbulent times of the late 1960s--early 1970s Dick lead the YMCA's Youth Center---not an easy assignment.
Countless area lonely and troubled youth benefited from Dick's time, warm heart, and his wisdom.

I'll never forget the time in July of 1969 when Dick was instrumental in suspending YMCA Camp Sliver Creek activities and transported its staff and campers to an offsite location, miles away. We curiously gathered  outside, in the open air, and surrounded a few black and white TVs. It seemed like a complete waste of camp time!
We didn't understand --but Dick knew.
Years later we were grateful that we left our camp cabins, leather work and fishing poles  to witness ghostly figures fulfill our country's promiss to land astronauts on the surface of the moon.
it wasn't until later that we came to understand that by so doing  we witnessed in real time  one of the most important events  of human history.  

Nor will I ever forget the help he provided me, and my family, during a time of family crisis ---some 35-40 years later.
I will forever be in his debt.

Dick was fond of introducing his friends to others as "tough as nails", and would often close out the day with a hearty "Goodnight men!"

Dick was a man that helped many, and left the world better than he found it.
---a life worth living.

Untill  we meet again... I'll see you down the trail.....



It was a privilege knowing Dick.  We first became friends as campers at Camp Silver Creek in Hillside Unit and were counselors together in Trickle Falls Unit.  We have been friends ever since.  He will be missed.