The Remarkably Unassuming Life of Richard "Dick" Stimson
Jul 17, 2014 1:00 PM
As a scientist by nature, life never ceases to amaze me. Take, for example, the remarkably unassuming life of Dick Stimson.
I first met Dick a couple of years ago when Steve Warner, at the time the head of Development for the Health Sciences, brought me to the VA nursing home to meet him. Dick lived very, very modestly. Having given away all but a few possessions, he enjoyed a simple life with visits and occasional outings with friends. If you had met him, you may have thought of him as a kind and gentle individual. But unless you had gotten to know him, and become part of his “family” as we did at the University of Utah, you would never have know how truly extraordinary he was.
Dick was both a humble and frugal man, values that he came by honestly born in 1925 during the Great Depression. With a dream of becoming an engineer, Dick enrolled in 1943 at the University of Utah where he quickly negotiated an exchange—his service in the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP), for a degree in engineering. This trade turned out to be a bit more than Dick had bargained for. After being transferred to Stanford, the ASTP program was cancelled and Dick was sent to war in France. As one of four in his platoon to survive Dick chose to value his life over the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and severe injuries he received there. The trajectory of Dick’s life may have changed, but his commitment to living did not.
On his return and successful completion of a degree in business marketing (at the time apparently, there were too many civil engineers graduating from higher education), Dick found success in insurance, sales and individual investments. At retirement, with no immediate family of his own, his friends Art Swindle and Millie Hagen encouraged him to volunteer his time with us at the hospital. With the longest standing volunteer record of weekly visits for 20 years, some of you surely may have encountered Dick Stimson. But as the understated man he was, it’s quite possible that he did not register on your radars. Dick did not wear his wealth or successes on his sleeve. Instead, he carried his heart there and offered its endless compassion to those who needed it most.
Dick Stimson died on July 5, 2014 at the Salt Lake Veterans Home at the age of 88, after celebrating a happy Independence Day. Rather than an immediate family, he left an entire community, those of us at UUHS whom Dick considered his family. After modeling a life of fortitude, giving, caring and compassion, he left us with a task: to extend the reach and the life of his fortunes to those who need it most. His bequest to us is among the largest individual gifts ever given to us. In honor of his parents, we will use his gift to create numerous Stimson Presidential Endowed Chairs and support faculty, education, research, and care delivery at the School of Medicine, the Department of Orthopaedics and the College of Pharmacy for a long, long time.comments powered by Disqus