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The obituary for Colonel (Ret) Robert Brown Simpson is shared as a courtesy to the Simpson family who have been long-time residents of Lilesville for many years.
Colonel (Ret) Robert Brown Simpson, 85, of Columbus, GA, died April 24, 2019, at Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital, Midtown Campus, after a brief illness. Funeral services will be held at First Baptist Church of Columbus at 11:00am on Saturday, April 27, with Rev. Dr. Jimmy Elder officiating. Interment will follow at Parkhill Cemetery, 4161 Macon Road. The family will receive friends on Friday, April 26, from 6:00pm until 8:00pm, at Striffler-Hamby Mortuary, 4071 Macon Road.
Colonel Simpson was born March 15, 1934, in Anson County, NC, the son of the late W.C. Simpson and the late Thelma Elizabeth Goodwin Simpson. Upon completion of high school, he worked his way through Wake Forest College (now University), graduating in 1956 with a degree in English. He later received a Master’s in Education Administration from Georgia State University. Having served two years as an enlisted soldier in the U.S. Army Reserve, he received upon graduation, through the Reserve Officer Training Corps, a commission as an Infantry second lieutenant.
Over the next 28 years, he served in a variety of positions in the Continental U.S. and in Hawaii, Korea, the Dominican Republic, South Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia. He served in the Pentagon as well as multiple tours at Fort Benning and Fort Bragg, NC. In addition to numerous decorations, he was most proud, as a combat veteran, of the award of the Combat Infantryman Badge. He retired from the Army in 1984 with slightly more than 30 years’ total service. He worked for the next 13 years for local banks and a mortgage company before retiring fully to serve as caregiver for his wife, Bernice A. Simpson, which he did full-time for the next 18 years, until her death in September 2015.
Bob Simpson always considered his marriage and his family the two most important accomplishments in his life. He loved the Army, tried to serve his God and his country, and adored his wife, his children, and his grandchildren. Born in the midst of the Depression in a poor area of the country, with limited prospects, he believed he had been among the most fortunate of men, having been allowed to follow the profession he most admired, marry the woman he cherished, father children who grew into adults of whom he could be proud, experience a life more varied and interesting than he could have expected, and gain many friends, who added layers of richness to his existence.
In 2010, Bob published a book, Through the Dark Waters: Searching for Hope and Courage, chronicling his wife’s experience of surviving long-term with Stage IV melanoma; he published an updated version in 2017, following her death. For 20 years, Bob wrote weekly op-ed columns for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer; he published his last column in October 2018, when he retired from writing due to his health challenges. As recently as last month, he was making plans to write a piece about his recent diagnosis of angiosarcoma (a rare, aggressive cancer) and his odyssey in the healthcare system. Bob was known for his eloquent writing, his quick wit, his keen sense of proper grammar, and his strong opinions. Above all, he was known for his absolute devotion to his family, who will miss him beyond measure.
In addition to his wife, his parents, and two infant siblings, he was predeceased by his older brother, Donald H. Simpson, his younger brother, Larry M. Simpson, and his older sister, Hazel Simpson Freeman. He is survived by his daughter, the Reverend Dr. Stacey Simpson Duke (and husband Rev. Dr. Paul Simpson Duke); his son, Robert Sloan Simpson; his twin grandsons, Robert Simpson Duke and Charles Simpson Duke; his sister, Alta Feldman; and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, and friends. He was endlessly grateful to his niece, Dr. Sheree Tolbert, for her extraordinary kindness and care in his last weeks. He was indebted also to many friends and to his church family for their many offers of support and expressions of care, and especially to Jennifer Dunford, who devoted herself to his care for the last several days of his life. Should friends desire, memorial contributions may be made to First Baptist Church of Columbus, Leiomyosarcoma Support & Direct Research Foundation (lmsdr.org), the Sarcoma Foundation of America (curesarcoma.org), or the charitable cause of your choice.