If you ask Dick Riley to describe the late Tim Pearson, he’ll probably need a moment to wrap his mind around the idea that he’s gone.
“It’s hard to imagine that I’ll never be able to talk with him again,” said Riley, the Louis. F. Tanner Distinguished Professor of Public Accounting, said in a remembrance piece he wrote on the passing of the beloved former professor of accounting. The last time the two spoke was at a research conference March 5 and 6 of 2020. Pearson later contracted COVID-19 and died from complications resulting from the infection on July 28, 2020.
Pearson has been described as warm and calm — a friendly soul, a teddy bear. Hard to ruffle. Easy to like, with a memorable laugh and a passion for his field.
“I can still hear his gentle voice,” Riley said.
Born June 13, 1957, in Madison, Wisconsin, Pearson loved to teach and to learn. He earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked as both a professor of accounting and in college administration for over 30 years -- 20 of which he spent in the halls of the Chambers College, taking on roles as Department Chair and Executive Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention. He was a founding member of WVU’s forensic accounting team and served as a residential faculty leader at WVU in Brooke Tower for over 11 years, where he worked to improve the freshman experience through a theme of professionalism and personal branding.
His students adored him, praising his “big heart” and his “genuine care” for their well-being. Pearson was the ultimate mentor to students, faculty and peers alike. In 2004, he won the Chambers College’s Distinction in Teaching award.
Riley recalls when he first arrived at WVU, fresh from his doctoral degree program, becoming frustrated with his dissertation process. “Tim jumped in to help get it published, in JAPP [the Journal of Accounting and Public Policy] no less,” Riley wrote.
Pearson was a leader in his field and an expert in forensic accounting, serving as editor for multiple academic journals, publishing many peer-reviewed articles and working tirelessly to secure millions in grant funding. In 2010 he was featured in Fraud Magazine, with his “stern countenance” gracing the cover and an interview titled “Fighting Fraud with Research,” that helped to elevate the College’s forensic accounting and fraud examination program.
At home, Pearson was as loving and kind with his family as he was with his students and fellow faculty. Quick to smile and always ready to engage in conversation, he enjoyed 35 years with his wife, Lori; raised four children, Nathan, Joshua, Skylar and Samuel; and welcomed granddaughter Violette. He is survived by four siblings: Dave, Bill, Pegge and Judith.
His legacy of service and care for others’ lives on even today. In lieu of flowers for his memorial service, his family requested donations be made to the CDC foundation emergency response fund for coronavirus.