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Richard Olin Simpson

Richard Olin Simpson


On July 21, Richard Olin Simpson, loving father of five, passed away at the age of 93.

Richard was predeceased 20 years ago by his wife of 53 years, Patricia Ann Kramer, by his parents, Lily Holler and Clyde Simpson, seven brothers and one sister, Marie. He is survived by his children Richard H. (Kate) Simpson, Dianne Patricia (John) Tuohy, Karen Sue (David) Tweedie, David Brian (Kathy) Simpson, and Norma Kaye (Peter) Bufford, 13 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren, and dozens of nieces and nephews.

Born in Independence, Missouri on March 7, 1930 into an extremely poor family, Richard was the sixth of nine children. He had a thirst for learning from a young age and read nearly all of the books in his local library, shelf by shelf. He completed high school while working every odd job he could find to contribute to family finances, enlisted in the U. S. Navy where he was stationed at Treasure Island, San Francisco, and served on the U.S.S. Boxer during the Korean War. He and his high school sweetheart, Patricia Ann Kramer, married and raised five children in the San Francisco Bay area. Richard attended the University of California, Berkeley while working full time, graduated with an engineering degree, and did graduate work at Stanford University in electrical engineering. He and two partners started an electronics company, Pacific Ordnance & Electronics Co., in San Francisco. PacOrd was considered the experts on naval shipboard electronics and weapons systems. Richard got his pilot’s license in order to fly between the branch offices in Seattle, San Francisco, and Long Beach. He studied law at U.C. Berkeley, Boalt Hall. In the 1960s, he became the Vice President of an electronics firm, Rucker Co., and personally brought the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, GFI, into the United States and Canadian marketplaces. In 1969, at the age of only 39, Richard accepted a Presidential appointment from Richard Nixon to the Department of Commerce as the Deputy Assistant Secretary (and later the Assistant Secretary) for Science and Technology and moved his family to the Washington, DC area. Six weeks into his new job, he chaired a delegation to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, the first of many such trips. In 1973, the President again came calling and selected Richard as the first Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission where he remained until 1976 when he retired from government service. His family fondly referred to him as the Safety Czar.

After consulting in the product safety sector, he and Patricia returned to California to be closer to family. Richard was a life-long golfer, and an excellent one, worked with several start-up companies and invented and patented a new home electrical safety device. Once retired, he and Pat traveled extensively and Richard served on the boards of several non-profits including his favorite, the local Friends of the Library. After his wife passed, Richard moved to Florida near one of his daughters and stayed there for the remainder of his life. While he had a very full and distinguished professional life, he also had a full home life and greatly valued education, hard work, and personal responsibility. Richard will be fondly remembered by his children and grandchildren for his skills in prestidigitation and card tricks. He was an honorable man and will be greatly missed.

Here is a link to another obituary written about Richard.

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