By Tina Montgomery
Retired Webster Parish educator Lonnie M. Simpson was called home by his Lord on July 3, 2022. He was 85 years old.
Mr. Simpson was born March 26, 1937 and grew up in Cotton Valley. Graduating from Cotton Valley High School in 1956, he later went on to earn his B.S. in elementary education at Northwestern State University. He began his career in the Webster Parish education system in 1960 teaching 6th grade at Stewart Elementary for 6 ½ years. Friends, family, colleagues, and former students say he loved teaching and all his students. Mr. Simpson later earned his Masters +30 degree and served as principal at Richardson Elementary. His career then carried him to Sibley High School where he was principal for one year and then returned as principal Stewart Elementary where he remained until his retirement.
Jerry Lott, former Webster Parish School Board Superintendent, remembers Mr. Simpson was a down to Earth man who loved his students and teaching staff and kept up with the latest trends in education.
“He really did love the kids and really supported the staff. He was an excellent administrator for beginning teachers. He made them feel comfortable when they came in. He offered them support, encouragement and guidance” Lott said.
Wayne Reeves was one of those beginning teachers who worked with Mr. Simpson.
Reeves, a former Minden resident, said via email, “ My first teaching job was at Stewart Elementary where I taught next-door to Lonnie Simpson. He was a super teacher and friend. Working with him was one highlight of my 52-year teaching career. Lonnie laughingly confided that his nickname from college days at Northwestern was ‘Mama Lon.’ You can guess that Lonnie was the problem-solver and self-appointed caretaker to his young peers in the dorm! He was a people-person with a caring heart. He will be missed.”
Many of Mr. Simpson’s former students expressed similar sentiments on Facebook upon learning of his passing.
“He was a great guy”
“He was the sweetest man”
“He was one of the good ones”
“He will be missed” were among the hundreds of Facebook posts made about Mr. Simpson. Some of the students even joked about Mr. Simpson’s frequent tasks as a bus driver when there were no substitutes. “The bus always broke down when he drove!” was mentioned frequently by several former students.
Mr. Simpson also loved serving his community. He was on the Board for the Dorcheat Historical Association and Museum in its beginning years. Museum Director Schelley Brown Francis says he was very instrumental in the creation of the museum and also applied his carpentry skills in constructing some of the museum cases.
“He just helped with any project, he was always eager and willing to help,” Francis said. “He was a proud Webster Parish citizen and eager to help anybody.”
Further examples of Mr. Simpson’s service to his community included volunteering at UCAP and Meadowview Nursing Home and as a Gideon visiting local prisons for prison ministry.
Mr. Simpson loved horses and spent many happy times riding with friends and the Piney Hills Riding Club. He shared his love for horses and riding with his granddaughter Hannah, spending many Saturdays riding. He was an excellent house painter, employing those talents during the summer when he was not working as an educator. He also loved reading and working outdoors with his daylilies.
Services celebrating his life will be at 10 a.m. Friday, July 8, at First Baptist Church Minden. Interment will follow at Cotton Valley Cemetery in Cotton Valley, under the direction of Rose-Neath Funeral Home of Minden. The family will receive friends from 5 until 7 p.m. Thursday, July 7 at Rose-Neath in Minden. Mr. Simpson was preceded in death by his wife of 58 years, Hannah Thompson Simpson; his parents Gussie Mae Jordan Simpson and Ira Simpson; and sister Rhonda Simpson Thomas. He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law Stacey and Norman LaFargue; granddaughter Hannah Marie Marks and his special grandson Tripp Thompson.
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