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A truly dedicated man

Simpson remembered for county commitment

Prince Edward County Farmville 101 District Supervisor Howard Simpson is being remembered as a man committed to his county.

Howard Simpson

Simpson, 79, died Tuesday.

“He always wanted people to know that he started out as a junior deputy,” said Joan Simpson, Howard’s wife, referring to his role with the Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office.

Howard and Joan were married for 42 years.

She said he went from the role of junior deputy to deputy.

“After he became a deputy, he was in charge of the jail because the jail was at the back of the courthouse; he was a jailor,” Joan said.

She said he served as sheriff following that. Howard was sheriff from 1974-75.

“After he left the sheriff’s department he went to work for Home Beneficial, and then he went to American General, and that’s where he retired,” Joan said.

She said he had been on the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors for 27 years.

She said he was proud and said that everyday he woke up, he knew he was going to be able to help somebody.

“He said that no matter who called him or where they called from in the county, … he always tried to take care of their needs, whether it was his district or not,” Joan said. “He was very proud of that.”

She said he had served as both vice chair and chairman of the board for a number of years.

In addition to his service to the county, Howard was also the head of the Premises Committee at Pisgah Baptist Church in Rice.

“He loved the church, and he worked hard (to get) things done at the church,” Joan said.

She said he always looked out after the employees in the courthouse.

“He would go around from office to office to see if there was anything they needed and tried to get them raises and days off …” Joan said. “I don’t think there’s an employee in that courthouse that didn’t love Howard.”

Howard had five children.

“It was a blended family, and he loved all of them as if they were all his own,” Joan said. “He had three, and I had two, and they sat here last night, and they said he never raised his voice, he never said a cross word to (them). He just always had a mild tone.”

He also had 13 grandchildren and 10 great- grandchildren.

“There’s never been anybody on the board of supervisors, I think, that loved it like he did,” Joan said. “That was his first life. Of course, his family was first, but I mean that was his love, he loved helping people and trying to get things done for the county.”

William G. “Buckie” Fore, a friend of Howard’s and previous Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors chairman, said Howard’s love for the county was followed by his love for county employees. He said Howard was an advocate for county employees. Fore said he’d spoken to Howard a few weeks ago and that Howard had said he planned to run for another term.

His death was announced at the board of supervisors meeting Tuesday night following an approximate 10-minute closed session.

“If you have noticed, Mr. Simpson’s seat is vacant tonight, and I’m sad to announce that he just passed away,” said Chairwoman and Farmville 801 District Supervisor Pattie Cooper-Jones.

She said they had gone into closed session to receive permission from Joan to announce his passing.

Following the announcement, a moment of silence was taken and Leigh District Supervisor Jerry Townsend gave an invocation.

“Lord, we ask you to be with the bereaved family, pick them up where they’re torn down,” Townsend said.

In an interview Wednesday, Townsend said Howard had been a mentor to him.

“I’ve been closely engaged with Howard for over four years now, and he really kind of mentored me during my transition to the board,” Townsend said. “He always was there if I had a question, and he was a positive role model for me and made sure I kind of went down and stayed in the road and that I was abreast of things that were going on in the county.”

He said Howard and Joan became friends of his family.

“I really enjoyed working with Howard, and truly, he’s going to be missed on the board of supervisors here in Prince Edward County,” Townsend said. “… I really appreciated everything he’d done for me, and he was a man of wisdom. He had a lot of wisdom when it came to county business.”

He said he certainly extends his condolences to the family.

Farmville 701 District Supervisor Jim Wilck said Howard was “very instrumental in getting me to run, because I didn’t really choose to run the first time.”

“Howard probably had more knowledge of the county itself, I mean he knew where every road was in the county and probably knew more people than anybody else on the board down there for two reasons, because he’s been there so long, and the second thing is he campaigned 100 percent of the time,” Wilck said. “I don’t mean that in a bad way — he just liked people, and he went out and talked to people all of the time.”

Lockett District Supervisor Robert M. “Bobby” Jones said the only time Howard missed a meeting was when he had heart surgery.

“When I first ran, he was very supportive of me getting elected, and he was a native of the Lockett district, and he had a lot of family in the Lockett area,” Jones said. “I enjoyed working with Howard, and I’m sure we’re going to miss him.”

Buffalo District Supervisor C.R. “Bob” Timmons Jr. said Howard was a committed member of the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors for many years.

“He loved this county and continually worked for our citizens,” Timmons said. “His passing will be a loss to the board and for our county.”

Hampden District Supervisor Dr. Odessa Pride said Howard had supported her in her run for the board.

“He took me around to different areas. He just initiated me into what would be happening on the board,” Pride said. “It’s a deep loss to our board. He was always dedicated, and we will truly miss him.”

Prospect District Supervisor J. David Emert said he had known Howard personally for a long time.

“He has certainly looked out for what he thought was right for the county,” Emert said.

A viewing will be held Saturday from 5-8 p.m. at the Shorter Funeral Home. A funeral service will be held Sunday at 2 p.m. at Pisgah Baptist Church with interment to follow at Trinity Memorial Gardens. Shorter Funeral Home is serving the family. For more information, see Howard Simpson’s obituary.