In Memoriam: Robert E. (Bob) Simpson


by Allen Brodsky, CHP, and John C. Villforth, CHP

One of our founding members listed in the first Health Physics Society membership handbook of 1957-1958, Robert E. (Bob) Simpson passed away in Frederick, Maryland, at age 87 on 25 March 2008. Bob graduated from Texas High School in 1939 and after graduation in chemistry from the College of Charleston in 1942 he entered the Navy.

He flew patrol planes in World War II and later become a flight instructor. After the war, he earned an MS in biophysics and biochemistry and followed a career in radiation dosimetry and administration of programs at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Bob joined the Health Physics Branch in the former U.S. Public Health Service's Bureau of Radiological Health (BRH) after serving as a civilian health physicist in the military in the DC area. He applied his long experience in health physics to the dosimetric and nuclear medicine research activities and maintained liaisons between BRH and military radiation protection and operational health physics programs. He also monitored various government contracts in the area of radiopharmaceutical research. He was always willing to help in the areas of health physics whenever there was a particular technical problem that needed solving. He retired from his military and government career as a civil service health physicist.

Following retirement, Bob continued to enjoy tennis, singing with his friends and choirs, and traveling around the world.

Before succumbing to his infirmities, Bob was an agile fighter on the tennis courts. He loved to meet people, often wearing his World War II Navy hat. He had been a member of the Montgomery County Barbershop Chorus and the President's Men and sang most recently with the choir of the Community Methodist Church of Ocean Pines. He was also an avid reader of philosophical and other works.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Sarah Odell Simpson. He is survived by two sons, Jim Simpson and Joe Simpson; two daughters, Jean Pierson and Susan Crawford; a brother, Retired U.S. Navy Captain William E. Simpson and his wife, June; and five grandchildren. He was a devoted companion to Kit Federico of Ocean Pines and her daughter, Pam Hart.

The photo of Bob and Jean was taken during a visit in May 2007 at the nursing home in Frederick. Of course, we all sang together.