Richard G. (Dick) Pearson

January 1, 1931October 14, 2020

Richard G. (Dick) Pearson died Wednesday, October 13, 2020 at Glenaire Retirement Community. He was born in Camden, NJ, and grew up in Cleveland, OH where he graduated from John Marshall High School in 1948. In 1952, he received a BS degree in Air Transportation from Purdue University followed by an MS degree in Industrial Psychology in 1953. Having received an ROTC commission as a Second Lieutenant, he was assigned to the USAF School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph AFB, TX as a research psychologist.

In 1957, Dick enrolled at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, PA where he pursued doctoral study in experimental psychology. He completed his dissertation in absentia in 1961 while conducting research with the Aviation Crash Injury Research division of Flight Safety Foundation, Phoenix, AZ. Then he joined the FAA Civil Aeromedical Research Institute as a Chief of Engineering Psychology in Oklahoma City until 1966 when he accepted a professorship position in Industrial Engineering at NC State University. While in Oklahoma, he served as adjunct faculty member at the University of Oklahoma and at Oklahoma City University.

Dick retired from NCSU in 2001 after 35 years of teaching, research, and PhD program director. Over these years, he was honored by the US Human Factors Society, 1978, and by the US Human Factors Society Medical Association and the Ergonomics Society, United Kingdom, 1990. He was honored by Fellow status in the Human Factors Society, 1977; the American Psychological United Kingdom in 1990. US Government Service included: NIH Safety and Occupational Health Study Section; US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Advisory Committee; and DHHS National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Board of Scientific Counselors, 1984-1987. Consulting efforts included General Electric, DuPont, and Westinghouse. From 1980 to 2005, he served as a forensic consultant in 170 legal cases in the USA which involved 36 states.

In 2001, Dick was appointed a Commissioner with the NC Occupational Safety and Health Review Board by then Governor Easley, a position he has retained for 19 years. He recently received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for his years of service to the state of North Carolina.

Dick volunteered at the JC Raulston Arboretum as a tour guide and ambassador for 25 years. He served Wake County as a Master Gardener. He was a Lay Reader and Sunday School Teacher in area churches. At Glenaire, he has served on the Spiritual Life Committee and the Building and Grounds Committee. He enjoyed international travel to 50 countries, both leisure travel and to scientific meetings.

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Joan Robertson Pearson; his daughters, Jeanne Silvey of Wake Forest, NC and Valerie Perry (Leo) of Smithfield, NC; stepchildren, Gail Brookman (Steve) of Edmond, OK and Jay Robertson (Birdie) of Lee’s Summit, MO; combined family include 8 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, George and Ethlind Pearson; wife, Helen; and sons, Douglas and Roger.

A private service and burial will be held in Oklahoma City, OK.

Memorials to First United Methodist Church of Cary or JC Raulston Arboretum.


Richard G. (Dick) Pearson

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Bill Hutson

October 20, 2020

Dr. Pearson had a great influence on my career and life. I joined the Ergonomics program in the fall of 1981. He encouraged me at every step of the way, and he also supported me materially with his NIOSH grant. He gave me a great appreciation for the field, a practical sensitivity to human factors problems, and a mindset for design solutions that helped me immeasurably throughout my own 35-year career.

I fondly remember running across Dick at the NC State Fair one year. My wife and 3 sons had stumbled upon the Gardening exhibits section, and there he was smiling, ready to "teach" us about gardening. He could have his stern professorial moments, but always with a good purpose, and his sense of humor was never far away. I was very fortunate to have his help. Made all the difference.

I give great thanks at this time for all his good and painstaking work for me and for all his students.

Requiescat in pace.


Albert Weaver III

October 19, 2020

Dick Pearson was the head of the graduate program for ergonomics when I was at NCSU from 1974 through 1977. He was my professor in several classes including the first one I took in Fall 1974. I enjoyed his classes and later worked with him on several projects including a major contract with the US Navy in the 1980's. We were also members of the Human Factors and Ergonomics societies, at his suggestion that we as his students join. And we collaborated on several forensic cases. Much influence on my life.