John H. Simpson of Erie, Colorado went home to be with his Lord and Savior on October 23, 2014 after a long battle with Parkinson’s syndrome and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He was 78.
John, the younger of two children was born on December 30, 1935 in Schenectady, New York to Harry Simpson and Ruby Mae Whitaker Simpson. John graduated from Nott Terrace High School in 1955 and shortly after his high school graduation enlisted in the United States Navy, where he served until 1959 as part of the naval aviation support team as a parachute rigger and an aviation support technician handling liquefied gases at Point Mugu Naval Air Station in the missile test facility. It was during John’s years in the U.S. Navy that he met the love of his life Marthann Bizel. John and Marthann were married on September 30, 1961 in Schenectady, New York after a five year courtship.
Following a brief break from military service, the sea called him back and John enlisted with the United States Coast Guard in 1961. During his years of service with the Coast Guard, John served as a lighthouse keeper at Spectacle Reef Light Station at the northern end of Lake Huron, Michigan and as a damage controlman on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mesquite, a 180-foot seagoing buoy tender, which was based out of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. During his years of service on the USCGC Mesquite, John played a critical role in keeping the Mesquite afloat and saving the ship when it ran aground on Eleven Foot Shoal outside of Escanaba, Michigan on April 10, 1964 and started to rapidly take on water. During John and Marthann’s years in Wisconsin, John converted from being a diehard Cleveland Browns fan to a lifetime Green Bay Packer’s fan and fortunately being a “Packer Backer” very rarely caused too much internal conflict for John, as he also eventually became a staunch Bronco fan.
After John’s adventures on the Mesquite came to a close, John graduated from the Hobart Institute of Welding and Technology based out of Dayton, Ohio in 1965. It was during his time at welding school that John got the urge to move to Colorado, based on the stories one of his teachers shared about the incomparable beauty of Colorado. John and his wife subsequently moved to Boulder, Colorado after John graduated from welding school. In his capacity as a welder John worked for Beech Aircraft on the Apollo Project, at Boulder Steel and Masonry, and as a staff welder for Reither Construction. It was in John’s capacity at Reither Construction that John honed his skills as a welder and became extremely accomplished at welding aluminum pipe buss work for electrical substations. Some of the substations that John helped build locally include Mary’s Lake Substation outside of Estes Park, the South Longmont Station, and the substation at the Martin-Marietta cement plant in Lyons. After leaving Reither Construction, John worked for U.S. Welding, where he was most known for his outstanding customer service relations.
Shortly after their move to Boulder, Colorado, John and Marthann started their family. Their first child Lance James Simpson was born on September 26, 1966, just 4 days before John and Marthann celebrated their 5-year wedding anniversary. In July of 1971, John and Marthann adopted their daughter, Elizabeth (Libbie) Katherine Simpson. John was faithful, hardworking and devoted to providing for his family. He was undeniably a rock-solid family man, who loved his wife, his children, and Jesus Christ. He worked hard to serve the people around him and he had a genuine interest in bringing joy to the people in his life. John always had a smile, a handshake and a willingness to go the extra mile.
John also loved the natural beauty of Boulder and the surrounding areas. He and Marthann shared their passion for the outdoors with their children and to this day, both Rocky Mountain National Park and Grand Teton National Park maintain a special place in their hearts. John always managed to combine his love for the mountains with his inner seaman, and many family adventures included a canoe, or a raft, or some other sort of watercraft, even if it was a paddleboat! He was a lifelong patriot and a member of the American Legion. John also had an eclectic passion for music. His interests ranged from the somewhat expected, Johnny Cash, C.W. McCall, and Peter, Paul and Mary to perhaps the more unexpected—Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra, Johann Sebastian Bach, Vivaldi and Henry Mancini. John’s passion for the beauty in nature and music fueled his innate creativity. John was also a very accomplished woodworker and he concentrated his skills on wooden folk toys, gifts for his family, and things to use around the house. He was also quite the handyman, and his favorite shops to just hang out at included Woodcraft and McGuckin’s Hardware.
John’s gradual health decline began in 2000 when he was diagnosed with adult onset hydrocephalus. He was also eventually diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome in January 2008, chronic lymphocytic leukemia in March 2008, and atrial fibrillation in September 2013. John fought all of these diseases valiantly and never allowed his declining health to overcome his positive and courageous spirit. His family is forever grateful to the men and women in the medical profession who so compassionately cared for him over the last 15 years.
John was preceded in death by his parents, his son Lance James Simpson of Erie, Colorado, and his sister Helen Louise Simpson Houston, of Schenectady, New York. He is survived by his wife Marthann Simpson of Erie, Colorado and his daughter, Libbie Miller and his son-in-law Dan Miller both of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, as well as his daughter-in-law Rhonda Simpson of Erie, Colorado, in addition to three grand-daughters and two great grandsons.