Professor’s suicide shocks Simpson community

by Amy Zoss

Described by students and colleagues as “upbeat” and “fun”, former Simpson professor Kim Samek’s suicide last Friday morning stunned the Simpson community.

“To lose a person like that is to lose a little bit of sunshine,” said Mark Green, a professor of marketing. Samek “always had a smile on her face.”

Samek was hired last spring to step in for Patricia Anderson, assistant professor of accoounting and teach accounting while Anderson was on family medical leave, according to Marilyn Mueller, chair of the department of management, accounting and economics.

Mueller learned of Samek’s death on Monday through an e-mail from one of Samek’s relatives. Mueller, who said she was “close” to Samek, said, “She was a great person.. I didn’t expect it at all.”

Samek left Simpson abruptly in lateJanuary. In turn, Anderson returned to teach Samek’s classes.

“I remember that one day we walked in to [accounting] class and Marilyn Mueller said that we wouldn’t have class that day,” said sophomore Joe Hanna. During the next class Mueller introduced Anderson as their new professor, without a reason for Samek’s departure.

“[Samek] was a cool lady,” said Hanna. “She seemed like she was fine – she was happy and leading a good life.”

Samek left a few diplomas and books behind in her office. Bruce Haddox , vice president for academic affairs and academic dean, said the college tried to contact Samek after she left, but the college never heard from her. Her belongings were already boxed up, and they will now be sent to her family.

“She just kind of went away, and six weeks later she was dead. It was a shock,” said Haddox. “I feel bad for her family and for her friends.”

Samek and Green shared a love of blues music, the “traditional” kind, said Green. They swapped CDs a few times, and would talk about the artists and their music.

“Whenever my kids would come through the offices selling popcorn she would always have time for them,” said Green. “It was such a joy to watch her talking to them.”

Samek was born in West Union, Iowa and grew up in Fayette, a small town northeast of Waterloo. She received her degree in accounting from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in human relations from North Arizona University. She was an accountant in Des Moines. She is survived by her parents and a large extended family.

Samek’s body was found at her home on Des Moines’ northwest side. She was 43 years old.