Michael Richard Levenson was born in Jackson, Mississippi, to Elizabeth Myers and Emmanuel Levenson on December 6, 1944. Rick’s journey into the light began on July 2, 2022. He died after a long illness, a very difficult process that was transformed into a lovely experience by the outpouring of love and affection by his family, friends, and former students, many of whom considered him family.
A retired professor from Oregon State University, Rick was a creative, original thinker who specialized in exceptional adult development, ranging from psychopathy to wisdom. A theoretical psychologist who was also trained in anthropology and sociology, he was adept at the development of psychological scales. These include the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale and the Adult Self-Transcendence Inventory, both of which are widely used and significantly influenced research in their respective areas. These were based on his study and practice of Sufism, Chan Buddhism, and esoteric Christianity.
One friend and colleague said, “He was the wisest of all of the wisdom researchers.”
More importantly, Rick was a transformative figure for his family, friends, and students. At the end of his life, many of his former students (he thought of them simply as friends), called or wrote to describe the profound effects he had on their lives. Many cited his kindness, gentleness, and generosity, as well as his wry sense of humor. He spent many long hours listening to and mentoring them, many of whom have gone on to be highly successful in their fields.
Rick was also very athletic, hiking and rock climbing, but he excelled at cycling, specializing in hill climbing. He happily cycled up mountains all over the West and in Spain, and reveled in rocketing down the hills. He loved to travel, and had many friends in different countries, stemming from his sabbatical at Oxford and collaborations with colleagues in Spain and Austria, among other places. His wanderlust took him on many trips, including to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Brazil, and Bhutan. He loved wine and had eclectic tastes in music, ranging from bluegrass to opera.
He will be sorely missed, but will forever remain in the hearts of those many whose lives he touched.