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by Judy Crook Simpson Vorfeld
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Back to Ron Simpson's page

Julie Johnson Almodovar  |  Ian Ith | Erin Berg Shelby  |  Greg Smith  |  Rob Sturza  |  Noel Suthers  |  Kimberly Jones

Kimberly Jones - January 2005

I was a student of his. When he retired I was finishing my freshman year of high school. I have many fond memories of him. He seemed to have this knack of really motivating us into becoming something that we needed to be. He was a lot of fun, and I still miss his great composing. Still get chills when I think about Donna Plotz Playing the trumpet solo, when we performed his composition of Do Not Go Into That Night Gently. Thank you again for putting this up there. Take care and God Bless you always...Kim Jones

Noel Suthers - March 2003

I stumbled across this page while looking up old names from my past.

I was one of Mr. Simpson's students in 1982 (I believe), when I started trumpet in 5th Grade. I was in Ian Ith's class - yes, the last before his retirement.

While so many years have now passed, and my memories are hazy with the passage of time, I still remember the dim, subterranean band room downstairs in R.E. Bennett School. I remember the peculiar smell of spit on Brass. I remember sweating the more complex passage of "Halls of Montezuma" (sorry Ron - although I played trumpet for the next 7 years, I never really learned to read sheet music properly). I also recall erasers flying. :) But no serious injuries resulted, and the point was made.

I remember being there at the tribute, being misty eyed, but not crying.

Mr. Simpson was a good solid guy, and I remember him, and what he taught me fondly.

Noel Suthers, New York City

Ian Ith

I was glad to see that Mr. Simpson's most beloved admirers remember with affection that he was known for a tad of a gentle temper. I remember chalkboard erasers flying at the 10-year-olds who dared mess around in class. I don't remember anyone being injured! Your pictures are a very nice reminder for me that he was an important part of my childhood.

I learned to play the trumpet in 5th grade under Mr. Simpson's guidance at RE Bennett School. (I donšt recall that we 5th graders were privy to his first name!) I was in the very last class he taught before retiring, in 1982. I remember that he taught me to read music, and that when the other trumpet players discovered that my rental trumpet looked funny, he told the class that I actually had a CORNET, and that he preferred the sound of a cornet to a trumpet, and you fingered it the same anyway, and so lay off. It meant a lot.

I remember him telling us that he was retiring, that he planned to sail a boat in Florida, and he would miss teaching kids like us, but he was obviously so elated to be retiring. I could see it in his smile, which we didn't always see in class, until then.

The last I remember of him is that in the spring, as we were fleeing 5th grade for summer break and the prospect of middle school, and he was gleefully leaving for retirement, he pulled up in front of the school in his brand new Toyota Celica-Supra, black, with all the trimmings. We all thought Mr. Simpson had an awesome car.

Then we learned he had suddenly and unexpectedly died. To our young minds, it seemed an odd concept.

I went on to play in the school band into high school, but in hindsight I donšt think the other teachers gave me as much as he did in the short time he taught me. To take a 10-year-old and in a few months teach him to read an entirely new language (music) from scratch, and to open him up to a whole new world, must have been a magical job.

Thanks for letting me ramble. Thanks so much for taking the time to remember him for all of us.

Ian Ith
The Seattle Times
Seattle, WA

Greg Smith - October 2000

I graduated in '74 from WF West with Shannon and shared a house with Ron while we attended Centralia College. We were in Ken Kimball's music theory class together. Ron and I later played in a band with Rolf Johnson, Bill Woody, and Bruce Tuttle. I played the French Horn for Ron Sr. at W.F. and enjoyed his love of music (although I rarely produced anything so lofty as 'music' on my French horn...) as well as ducking the occasional baton thrown at me for messing around (which I did in prodigious amounts).

I really enjoyed your web site! Thanks for taking the time to put it all together for others to enjoy. I hope you've heard from some of our cronies: they would love the site and your chronology of Ron's life.

It was a bittersweet pleasure to hear the music and see so many old friends at Ron's community service. The music was wonderful which of course would be all that mattered to Ron. He really left quite a legacy, not the least of which are Ron and Shannon.

Erin (Berg) Shelby - June 2000

While searching the web for information about W.F. West High School (my alma mater - I graduated in 1985) I discovered your website. I wanted you to know what an inspiration Ron was to many of us involved in various music programs. I was a violinist starting at the age of 7 years and played through high school (with the Tacoma Youth Symphony and other local orchestras) and also in college at the University of Washington.

Upon my graduation from high school, I was awarded a music scholarship that if my memory serves me, was from the Ron Simpson Memorial Scholarship. This particular scholarship meant a lot to me and I was very grateful for it and wanted to express that thanks to you. Later, I graduated with a degree in Business Administration in 1989 and now I live in Sacramento, CA with my husband of 7 years and two little ones, Carly age 4 1/2 and Matthew 2 1/2.

Thank you for your wonderful tribute to such an inspirational man.

Rob Sturza - July 2000

Just wanted to thank you for putting up this web-site. My son found it while searching my name on the Internet. I was honored to be asked to play at Ron's memorial service. I studied under Ron from Jr. High through High School and graduated in 1979. The tire iron incident early in his life cracked up both myself and my wife Carol Baisinger (she also studied under Ron) as we witnessed similar incidents with a baton. However, knowing Ron outside of the classroom, especially on a sailboat, showed us a personal side most students didn't get a chance to witness.

I continued my study of Music through college but changed directions and earned a degree in Software Engineering. It was Ron who encouraged me to pursue a music career but insisted that I had something to fall back on. Carol and I now have 4 boys and we are both heavily involved in Contemporary Christian Music through our church.

Julie Johnson Almodovar - - July 2000

I really want to thank you for a wonderful tribute to an incredible man. I had the pleasure of being one of his students for three years prior to his retirement in 1982. I was truly inspired as young musician and absolutely in awe of his musical talent. His encouragement and belief in me as a flutist was the reason that I made music such a big part of my life. I remember him handing me the piccolo in the fall of my freshman year and asking me to take over the position--what an honor!! I couldn't believe that he thought I was good enough and capable of it as a freshman.

I continued with the piccolo all through high school and college, while focusing on flute performance outside of band. I remember competing in a solo competition at W.F. West in '82. Ron came up to me afterwards with tears in his eyes and gave me a hug. He was a very caring and supportive person. His death in the summer following his retirement was devastating to many of us. One of the greatest honors in my life was being the first recipient of the Ron Simpson Memorial Music Scholarship, however, I would have much preferred to have more years with him. I truly enjoyed his humor, intelligence and friendship. I still miss him terribly.

I graduated from college in 1988 with degrees in both elementary education and music. After teaching elementary school for 9 years, I finally realized that my true love should be my career. I now run a private flute studio out of my home where I have taught many other Chehalis flutists, as well as those in the Olympia area where we now live. Two of my former students have also received the scholarship in Ron's name. My hope is that I can give my students the same support and encouragement that Ron gave me. Again, thank you for your tribute. It brought back many wonderful memories along with some tears for the years that he lost.

Please feel free to e-mail me with any comments/tributes you have to Ron. I will upload them only with your permission...Judy Vorfeld

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