Dennis O’Grady, Psy.D., President
Dayton Area Psychological Association
Michael Firmin, PhD, a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Cedarville University, and esteemed DAPA member and workshop presenter, passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack on October 27th. Mike was 59. He deeply loved his wife, Karen Firmin, for 36 years. Together they raised two wonderful daughters, Ruthie and Sarah.
Dr. Firmin also held a doctoral degree in Church Administration. He published over 120 peer-reviewed articles, and was deeply committed to mentoring and equipping students for the thoughtful integration of faith and psychology. He was dedicated to seeing his students “go beyond” him. He valued excellent two-way communication.
I coincidentally had a warm email exchange with Mike 13-days before his passing. We share common ground because we both have raised psychologist daughters who flew the coop specializing in areas different from our own. Here’s some of Mike’s kind and humorous words that connected us…
“Dennis, my oldest daughter was licensed two years ago and is a clinical professor at Brown University School of Medicine (as a psychologist, she trains psychiatry residents). I tried to lure Ruthie into forensic psychology (working with me) but she really likes severe mental illness (SMI). In particular, Ruthie likes schizophrenia, schizoaffective, DID, bipolar, and the like. Who would turn-away such a population for criminals–right?! (ha). Ruthie has 70 journal publications and will need to find her way regarding academe vs clinical practice. In any event, I hope you and your daughter can share “clinical bonding moments” as you speak the same lingo and share similar worlds on the professional (as well as personal) level.”
Mike also had a habit of unabashedly sharing genuine and heartfelt positive feedback, a trait I admire. “You have always been kind to me, Dennis, and please know that it has never gone unnoticed nor unappreciated. I continue to feel badly for not having become more involved with DAPA due to pastoring. I’ve still got 10 years until I make it to your age, so don’t necessarily count me out for the duration, right?! (smile). I read through your website and have utmost respect for how you have developed a quality-niche in private practice. You are a quality clinician, good businessman, a great trainer, and have obvious EQ. Keep me penciled-in your book of professional friends. DAPA is genuinely privileged to have your leadership and we all are grateful for your clinical and business services in the Miami Valley area.”
My mother taught me “Death is Gentle.” Mom was utterly at peace with her death. At age 69, I have finally learned that death is not something to be feared. Of course, an event of such magnitude is very sad. But from my view, Mike lived and enjoyed his life and loved fiercely and completely. From the view of Mike’s family and colleagues, he has gone Home to a wondrous joyful Celebration. As a devout believer, Mike lived and died with God. I will truly miss Dr. Firmin’s spirit of generosity, wisdom, kindness, and friendliness.
Lastly, Mike led an excellent workshop for our DAPA community entitled Applying Ethical Thinking to Clinical Practice. It shed light on why he had earned the title of Distinguished Psychology Professor at Centerville University. He was a caring soul, prolific writer, loving father, and mentor to untold psychologists. Dr. Firmin was also an active ordained pastor, forensic psychologist, department chair, journal editor, and conference director and much more.
Before I had heard of Mike’s passing, I was thinking of him when I wrote the President’s Column for this issue focusing on gratitude attitudes. Why not take a minute and send an email today that lets someone know what you admire about them? Who knows? Your words might just come in the nick of time when a weary spirit needs a lift.
Our heartfelt prayers go out to Dr. Firmin’s wife and two daughters, colleagues, parishioners, and all who knew him. And although I am so proud to say Dr. Firmin was an esteemed member of our DAPA community, I am even happier to say Mike was my friend.