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Photo of Simpson, Sidney

Sidney Simpson

Professor Emeritus

Biological Sciences


Sidney Simpson, passed away peacefully on April 25. His was a life well lived, filled with accomplishment, curiosity, delight in his family, and most of all love- given and received. Born in Russellville, Arkansas to Sidney B Simpson, Sr. and Opal Dodson Simpson, he was their long-awaited and much cherished first child.

As a young boy, Sid knew that he would become a scientist. While still in junior-high school he was often invited to share and discuss his insect collection with adult groups such as the Kiwanis and Chamber of Commerce. He graduated from Arkansas Polytechnic College and earned his PhD from Tulane University. While still at Tulane, he was invited to publish a paper based on his PhD research alongside a similar paper authored by a well-known Professor at Western Reserve Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio. The resulting postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of that scientist marked the beginning of a distinguished career in the fields of Regeneration and Developmental Biology.  He contributed his research and teaching talents to three Universities:  Western Reserve (later known as Case Western Reserve), Northwestern, and University of Illinois at Chicago. At UIC he served as Department Head, and for two years as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. While at UIC, for five years Sid served on a team of scientists providing technical advice to the United Arab Emirates University in Al-Ain, UAE.

As a graduate student, he was accepted into the renowned summer Embryology course at the Marine Biology Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.  For his research in that class, he won the coveted Conklin Prize, and was invited to return the next year as a Teaching Assistant, and the following year as Junior Instructor in the course.  It was at Woods Hole, in the summer of 1962, that he met his soulmate, Nan Sype. They married in December of that year and together they created a family, realized many of their dreams, and were blessed with more than sixty years of abundant joy.

After retirement, Sid and Nan retired to Albuquerque, where they plunged into a new life as artists. Sid was especially drawn to abstract images, and he experimented widely with form, colors, and paints.  He liked to say, “I never encountered a technique that I didn’t want to try!” His work was seen in many juried and open shows, and is in many private collections. Along the way, he became a self-educated expert in art history, especially of the artists of the past 150 years.

When the children were growing up, the family adventures included camping, fossil-collecting, and Spring Vacations to Milwaukee, where the attractions included the Zoo, the Midway Motor Lodge (with a domed pool and pinball machines!), and the Public Natatorium where you could pet the dolphins.   Later on, Sid and Nan enjoyed travel to faraway places, including Israel, Egypt, Peru, Greece and Italy.

Sid will be remembered for his kindness, his gentle spirit, his willingness to listen. His loss leaves a deep hole in many hearts.  Sid is survived by his wife Nan, children Sid III Allen-Simpson (Laura), Jeff Simpson (Kristina), and Jen Simpson, and by his sister Ruth Ann Simpson.

A small family service will be held at a later date.  In lieu of flowers, spread a bit of joy today.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Sidney Simpson please visit our floral store.   You can view his obituary here.