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It is with much sadness but also great joy for his rich, full life that we announce that Don Kirkpatrick has passed away. His obituary is below. 

Earlier this year, Don humbly reflected on his legacy and challenged us all to think about how we can contribute to the greater good. We invite you to revisit that reflection by clicking here.

Click here to see some of our favorite photos of Don.

Click here for additional photos, including those from Don's funeral.

Click here to read Jim's touching letter to his father.

Dr. Donald L. Kirkpatrick passed away peacefully on May 9, 2014, with close family by his side.

Don was a luminary in the training and development industry. His four levels of training evaluation created in the 1950s became the industry standard for measuring the impact of training programs.

Don was the author of eight books on training evaluation and human resource management topics, including Evaluating Training Programs, 3rd edition. He was a dynamic speaker who made presentations worldwide. Don is fondly remembered for his use of the overhead projector and transparencies long after most had transitioned to electronic presentation media.

Don was honored for his contribution to the training industry with numerous awards, including the ASTD Lifetime Achievement Award, ASTD Legend in Training and Development, ASTD Gordon M. Bliss Award and Training Magazine Hall of Fame membership. Don was also proud to be a U.S. Army veteran who served during World War II.

Don’s work is carried on by his son, Jim, and daughter-in-law, Wendy, through their company, Kirkpatrick Partners. They are honored to be able to continue Don’s seminal work.

Don was the father of Jim (Wendy), Sue (Rick), Doug, and Ted (Cristy). He is also survived by 5 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. Fern, his beloved wife of 63 years, passed away 2 months ago. Don lived a full, rich 90 years loving the Lord, family, missions, music, sports, and games. He was an Elmbrook Church elder and a Gideon. 

Visitation and a memorial service for Don will be held on Thursday, May 15, at 9:00 and 10:00 am, respectively, at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, WI. In lieu of flowers, the family requests check contributions to the Madison Symphony Orchestra, 222 W. Washington Avenue, Suite 460, Madison, WI, 53703. Online donations can be made at Please mention “in honor of Don Kirkpatrick” in the comments field of the donation form. A concert will be held in Don and Fern’s honor in 2015 to celebrate their love of music. 

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  • In Loving Memory of Don Kirkpatrick


Monday, May 12, 2014 2:28 PM
Very saddened to hear this. He is now with his bride, but the world will sorely miss someone so dedicated to the profession and ensuring that we are measuring at all four levels. His humor, his singing of the Packers or Wisconsin song all made him more human to the rest of us. Thanks for continuing his work, and may you all be blessed with his memories and legacy.

Howard Prager
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 11:57 AM
I am very saddened to hear about the passing of Dr. Kirkpatrick. I have always admired his work and apply in my training. My sympathy to the Kirkpatrick family and he will be missed very much.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 12:44 PM
I and my partners at HRDQ were sorry to hear of the passing of Don. He is a legend in the training field and we are honored to have worked with him.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 3:08 PM
Please accept my sympathies on the loss of Dr. Kirkpatrick. I have been applying his wisdom for twenty plus years; I think of Dr. Kirkpatrick as an industry mentor and therefore a personal mentor. Dr. Kirkpatrick's involvement in the performance improvement community and in other communities closer to home is a source of inspiration. He will be missed.
Thursday, May 15, 2014 6:40 PM
My condolences to you and your family at this time. I fondly remember attending one of Don's last sessions at ASTD ICE. I feel privileged to have met him and learned so much from him. He was humble, wise and generous. I am sure you will dearly miss him.
eLearning Learning

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