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Simpson College mourns loss of Dr. Robert Larsen

Long-time Music Department Chair and founder of the Des Moines Metro Opera was a champion for Simpson College


Dr. Robert L. Larsen ’56, an influential and long-time faculty member integral to building the Simpson College Music Department, died Sunday, March 21, 2021 at age 86. 

Larsen taught at Simpson for 55 years and served as chair of the Music Department for nearly 30 years. He led the Madrigal Singers for 50 years and founded the Des Moines Metro Opera in 1973. He influenced the lives and careers of hundreds of Simpson graduates, many of whom remained in touch with him until his passing. 

Larsen also had a significant impact on the structural landscape of the college. He championed the construction of the Blank Performing Arts Center, Amy Robertson Music Center and the Salisbury wing of the Amy Robertson Music Center.  

Photo of Robert Larsen in his office
Dr. Robert Larsen taught in the Simpson College Music Department for 55 years.

“It is with great sadness that the faculty, students, and alumni of the Simpson College Music Department learn of the passing of Dr. Robert Larsen," said professor of music John Benoit. "He attended Simpson as an undergraduate in the 1950s, left for a year to earn a Master’s degree, then returned to serve for over fifty years as a member of the Simpson faculty. For thirty of those years, he was a highly influential department chair who spearheaded the building of the Blank Performing Arts Center, the Amy Robertson Music Center, and the Salisbury Wing of the ARMC. His imprint on the Simpson music program, including its strong tradition of undergraduate opera, is deep and enduring. He will long be remembered as one of the truly remarkable alumni and faculty of Simpson College.”

A complete obituary can be viewed on Indianola-IA.com.