ATD Blog

L&D Community Loses a Legend With the Passing of Donald L. Kirkpatrick

Monday, May 12, 2014

The father of the Four Levels of Evaluation has passed away at age 90. Donald L. Kirkpatrick revolutionized the measurement of training impact. Through his more than 60 years of contributions to the industry, Dr. Kirkpatrick became a preeminent voice within organizational learning & development.

One might say that ATD and Don Kirkpatrick grew up together over the last 60 years. We could not have wished for a better friend. The L&D Community offers our sincerest condolences to Jim, Wendy, and all of Don’s family and loved ones.

Without question, Don’s impact on the industry is immeasurable. We welcome everyone to share how Don influenced not only the industry, but their own work and careers. 

***Update: Kirkpatrick Community Newsletter features links to gallery of favorite photos, obituary, and more memories of Dr. Kirkpatrick.


From the official obituary:

Dr. Donald L. Kirkpatrick passed away on May 9, 2014, at the age of 90. Don was a luminary in the training and development industry. His Four Levels of 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 also was 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.

Funeral services will be held on Thursday, May 15, in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the Don and Fern Kirkpatrick Memorial Fund, Madison Symphony Orchestra, 222 W. Washington Avenue, Suite 460, Madison, WI, 53703. A concert will be held in Don and Fern’s honor in 2015 to celebrate their love of music.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees around the world.

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