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J. Richard Simon

Iowa City

J. Richard Simon, 87, died Wednesday, May 3, 2017, following a long battle with Parkinson's disease.
A celebration of his life will be held during the summer in Iowa City, where he lived happily for 60 years. The time and date will be announced before the celebration. He will be buried in the Jewish Cemetery in Greensboro, N.C., on Sunday.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Parkinson's Disease research.
Simon was a professor of psychology and industrial engineering at the University of Iowa. His research on cognitive functioning resulted in the discovery of the "Simon Effect." This is the understanding that people produce faster and more accurate responses when the stimulus occurs in the same relative location as the response. Hundreds of experiments using the Simon Effect have resulted in better emergency response procedures and reduced human error. In 2008, a conference titled "Responding to the Source of Stimulus: An Interdisciplinary Conference in Tribute to J. Richard Simon," was hosted by his colleagues, professors Eliot Hazeltine and Toby Mordkoff.
Not only was Simon active in research, he also was a longtime teacher in both the psychology and engineering schools. His courses focused on the application of psychology to organizations and the designing of work environments to promote greater satisfaction, safety and efficiency. During his lifetime, he established several scholarship funds supporting promising graduate students.
After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1955, Simon spent a year as a Fulbright Fellow at Cambridge University in the U.K., where he researched performance changes and aging. He also spent a year at the American Institute for Research in Pittsburgh before his appointment at the UI in 1957.
A lifelong Anglophile, Simon spent seven sabbaticals as a visiting professor at different universities across the U.K. He especially loved London – strolling in Regent's Park, visiting the British Museum and watching his favorite ballerina, Tamara Rojo, fly across the Covent Garden stage.
When he retired, Simon pursued an interest in African tribal art. He became a collector of Ibeji twin figures, made by the Yoruba people of Nigeria, and donated his collection to the University of Iowa Museum of Art.
In his youth, Simon was a long-distance runner and he continued exercising for many years despite his illness. He also enjoyed playing squash and table tennis, but was beset by deep frustration on the golf course.
Simon and his late wife, Betty, enjoyed arts and culture. He sponsored the elevator in the newly re-opened Hancher Auditorium in her name. Simon's tastes were eclectic, ranging from Korean arthouse films to grand opera.
He is survived by his daughters, Alissa of Chicago and Sue of New York; sister-in-law. Jean of Naples; brother-in-law, Gianni of San Francisco; and his wife's sister, Rita, and her husband, Jack, of New York. Dear friends Liana, Sharon and Lora provided extraordinary care for Dr. Simon in his later years.
Online condolences may be sent to www.lensingfuneral.com.