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George L. Simpson, Jr., 91, died December 13, 2012, following a lengthy illness.

He was born October 27, 1921, in Concord, North Carolina, the only child of George L. Simpson, Sr., and Willie Odessa Hudson Simpson. After graduating from Concord High School, he entered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1937, receiving a B.A. degree in 1941 and an M.A. degree in Sociology in 1944.

When America entered World War II, he was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy and served as the gunnery officer on the destroyer U.S.S Ordronaux in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific theatres, rising to the rank of Lieutenant.

Following the war, he returned to Chapel Hill to pursue a Ph.D. in Sociology under Dr. Howard Odum, doing course work at both UNC and Vale and writing his dissertation on the Coker family of Hartsville, South Carolina, which was published by the UNC Press as The Coke rs of Carolina (1956). He received the Ph.D. degree in 1951 and would later receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from UNC in 1969.

He joined the faculty of UNC in 1951 and taught Sociology there until 1956. At that time, Governor Luther Hodges and others were seeking to improve the economy of North Carolina by using the research capabilities of UNC, what was then NC State College, and Duke University to attract technology-based companies to the state. To that end, the Research Triangle Committee was created in 1956 to establish a research park in the center of the geographic triangle formed by the three institutions, and George was app ointed the Committee’s first Executive Director.. As historians of the Research Triangle have said, if Governor Hodges was the heart of the Triangle, George became the brains, translating the Research Triangle dream into a concrete plan and leading the way in implementing it.

He returned to the UNC faculty in 1959 and taught there until 1962, when he went to Washington to serve as Assistant Deputy Administrator for Public Affairs at NASA. He later served as Assistant Deputy Administrator for Technology Utilization and for Policy Planning as well.

In July, 1965, he was installed as Chancellor of the University System of Georgia by the Georgia Board of Regents, and he served in that capacity until July, 1979. After leaving the Chancellorship, he remained in Atlanta until 2006, when he and Louise moved to Raleigh to be near family members.

He is survived by the following, all of whom are in Raleigh: his wife Louise; his sons George L. Simpson, Ill and wife Nancy, and Joe H. Simpson and wife Melissa; his grandchildren Barrett Simpson Brewer and husband Curt and George L. Simpson, IV and wife Kate; his step grandchildren Jennifer Leigh Martin, Tudi Martin Jackson and husband David, and John Barry Martin; his great grandchildren Catherine Campbell Brewer, William Smith Brewer, Sara Barrett Brewer, and George Pierce Simpson; and his step great grandson John Reese Taylor.