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William “Bill” Kemp Larson

William “Bill” Kemp Larson (1941-2023), Ph.D., 82, passed away in the early morning of December 31, 2023, at SOMC Hospice, surrounded by his loving wife and daughter. Born in Chicago, Illinois, to Leonard and Ruby Virginia Larson, William was a graduate of Shaker Heights High School in Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Larson went on to receive a bachelor’s degree from Heidelberg College in Sociology as well as a Master of Education and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from Bowling Green State University.

Larson devoted his life to public service; he changed education in Ohio with his positions in various K-12 schools throughout Ohio and within higher education during his time at Ohio University. Bill came to the southern Ohio region in 1979 to serve as the superintendent of the Portsmouth City School District, where he served one of the longest tenures in that position until his retirement in 1992. Upon retirement, Bill transitioned to employment at Ohio University, training future K-12 administrators. Positions he held at Ohio University included adjunct professor, lecturer, assistant professor, associate professor with tenure, and finally Associate Professor Emeritus upon retirement in 2020. Believing deeply in the importance of professional development for K-12 administrators within the Southern Ohio region, Dr. Larson was the founder and initial director of the Ohio University Leadership Project (OULP), a professional development program he started in 1994. Values of morality and ethics that Dr. Larson championed continue to be taught within OULP seminars and through the daily practices of his former students.

Outside of work, Bill possessed a strong personal faith in the Lord. He was a long-time member of All Saints Episcopal Church, where he served in former leadership roles, including junior and senior warden, lay reader, and a member of the vestry. He often was known to say that he was “very much blessed by my Maker” in his long life of professional service. Additionally, he was active in the Simon Kenton Council of the Boy Scouts of America, a Mason, and a long-time member of the Rotary.

Bill was happily married to the love of his life, Nancy, on February 6, 1982, and was blessed to share over 40 years in partnership with her. He was often known to say his proudest accomplishment was their loving marriage. Bill is preceded in death by his parents, Leonard and Ruby Virginia Larson. His wife, Nancy (Chellis) Larson, and daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Larson, Ph.D., of Liberty Twp., survive him in his death.

A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday at 1 P.M. at All Saints Episcopal Church with Rev. Gene Hallahan officiating. There will be no visitation. Arrangements are under the direction of the Ralph F. Scott Funeral Home in Portsmouth.

The family requests in place of flowers, donations be made in his name to All Saints Episcopal Church, 610 4th St, Portsmouth, OH 45662, and to the Ohio University Leadership Project, The Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education, C/O Caryn Bailey, 100 East Union Street, Patton Hall Room 101, Athens, OH 45701.


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