George Simpson, a living legacy

December 23, 2012 

George Simpson was, the late Bill Friday used to say, his only choice to head the Research Triangle Committee in 1956, when Friday was just the acting president of the University of North Carolina system he would head for 30 years. The committee, led by Simpson’s diligent efforts to bring together universities and businesses in an organization that’s still a model for others around the country, did long-lasting work. The park thrives still.

Simpson was 91 when he died Thursday, after a life of breathtaking accomplishment, including a long tenure as chancellor of the University System of Georgia. He was a modest man, uninterested in credit, even embarrassed by his achievements, certainly not willing to talk about himself. He didn’t care much for others to do it, either.

But they couldn’t help it. Simpson was, after all, plowing new ground when he led the development of RTP. This brainstorm came to a handful of business leaders and Friday and it was a considerable risk at the time. Having Simpson on board reduced that risk. In fact, it turned out that George Simpson was the man who blended the formula for success.

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