George D. Simpson

George Dupuy Simpson, 96, slipped away peacefully in his bed in the Health Center of St. Joseph's of the Pines at the stroke of midnight on May 9, 2020.

He had arrived as a wonderful Christmas present for his parents, Margaret Dupuy Simpson and Arthur Roy Simpson, on Dec. 25, 1923, in Chicago, Ill. He was christened George Alexander Dupuy Simpson in honor of both grandfathers. He had two older sisters, Janet and Harriet. They lived for several years in California, but most of his childhood was spent in Chicago.

After high school, George attended the Illinois Institute of Technology for one and a half years before entering the U.S. Navy at the beginning of 1943. During the subsequent years as part of his service, he attended the University of South Carolina and graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a B.S. in math. George then attended Duke University and received a degree in civil engineering. He was elected to the honorary engineering fraternity Tau Beta Pi.

In June 1946, he was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserves and was promoted to lieutenant junior grade in 1949. He was awarded the World War II Victory Medal, the American Area Campaign Medal and the Asiatic-Pacific Medal.

While he was attending USC for his engineering studies, George joined a barbershop quartet, beginning a lifetime love of singing. He also fell under the spell of a sweet southern belle and fellow student, and in June 1948, George and Sarah Lee Brandon were married at the First Presbyterian church in Winston-Salem.

The following year, they moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1949, where he worked as a civil engineer in water and sewage treatment for the prestigious environmental firm, Havens and Emerson. He was involved in cleaning up the notorious “burning river,” the Cuyahoga that ran through Cleveland's industrial section. He became a partner in the firm in 1965 and then president and chairman in 1975. Under his watch, the firm expanded from two offices to five in Ohio, New York, New Jersey and Boston.

George and Sarah welcomed daughter Edith Lee into the family in 1952 and David in June of 1953. Playing tennis was a favorite family activity, but in the 1980s a friend invited George and Sarah to play golf, and a new hobby was born.

After his retirement at age 60 in 1984, George took his southern gal back home to Carolina, seeking warmer weather, proximity to her family and lots of golf. They moved to Spring Lake in Whispering Pines where he continued to work as a private engineering consultant. First a member of the Country Club of Whispering Pines, George later served on its board of directors and was involved in crafting a survival strategy when it threatened to go under. He was also a member of the board of directors of the Moore Water and Sewage Authority and the Whispering Pines Planning and Zoning Board. George later served on the board of Moore Regional Hospital and the Hospital Foundation Board.

With an eye to the heavens, George was an enthusiastic amateur astronomer and member of the Planetary Society. He attended many astronomy workshops around the country, often with the Elderhostel group. He had a wonderful computer-guided telescope he used on his dock at Spring Lake for many years. Once they moved to Belle Meade, he was forced to lug it around to find a dark sky. This soon became untenable for him, so he was thrilled to learn that the local Sandhills Community College had a physics and astronomy department to which he donated his telescope and technical books.

Over the years, George and Sarah traveled extensively, enjoying many of the U.S. National Parks and Jasper and Banff in Canada. They visited each of the great civilizations of the world: Greece, Egypt, Italy, Austria, China (twice), Japan, Great Britain, Germany, England and Spain, as well as other countries such as Costa Rica, and the Virgin Islands.

With a love of classical music born as a child because his father played violin in an amateur symphony in Chicago, he was an annual season ticket holder and donor to the North Carolina Symphony.

George and Sarah relished their years on Spring Lake in Whispering Pines, but in 2007 moved from their larger home to a cottage at Belle Meade. There they soon met many fascinating people who had lived all over the world. With two excellent restaurants and the variety of cultural events and entertainment offered through Belle Meade, their later years were vibrant. With his rich baritone voice, George rarely missed the Belle Meade singalong, a weekly gathering of residents of which some considered him the unofficial ringleader.

He and Sarah enjoyed 71 years of married life before she predeceased him in 2019. Also preceding him in death were his son, David; and both sisters, Janet Crantz and Harriet Van Pelt.

He is survived by his daughter, Edith Lee, and son-in-law, Howard Szczech; brother-in-law Cecil Brandon and his wife, Evelyn; and a gaggle of nieces and nephews on both sides.

Arrangements are being made by the nice folks at Simon Funeral Home.

Memorials may be made to the education fund at St. Joseph's of the Pines or Sandhills Community College.