James Gilbert Simpson
Born: July 25, 1930 Baltimore, Maryland
Passed Away: March 23, 2007 Duarte, California
Graveside Service: Thursday March 29, 2007 1:00 PM
Interment: Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, California
Chaplain Patrica Williams, Officiating
Scripture Psalm 139 Meditation
Words of Committal
Prayer and Lord’s Prayer
We are here this afternoon, all of us together, Jim Simpson’s family and friends -to give thanks to God for his life, so freely shared with all of us -to comfort one another and to receive God's comfort in our sorrow -to recall God's promise of love and hope
the 23rd Psalm speaks of that promised hope: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff - they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Let us pray:
Gracious and loving God, As we listen to the words from this psalm, we can see that in your love we are born, and from you, we are fed. We know that always, Lord, you walk with us guiding us and giving us comfort. Show us your grace as we remember Jim. We praise you and thank you for his life - for the love and the joy he brought to all of us - for the way he taught us by his example, the value and meaning of life.
We are so grateful for our memories that continue to keep him near to us. We are comforted as we begin to understand that he is now in your presence. We rest now in your comfort and your care as together we share our memories of Jim.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen
Introduction to Scripture
It is a privilege for me to be here with you in this very special time of remembering and honoring this one you call dad, grandpa, friend. Because I met many of you six years ago, it feels very personal. I have found myself pondering just what might be important to be reflected on today. I’ve listened to what you’ve remembered about Jim, and mulling it over, it brought to mind - a song. Not a religious one, but a song of the ‘40’s – Maybe you remember “Sentimental Journey”– “Going to take a sentimental journey, going to take a journey home.”
That’s what we’ll be doing, walking with one another, remembering the journey that was the life of Jim Simpson.
In light of that I have another Scripture reading, one that might not be so familiar to you. Psalm 139 tells of how the writer has come to recognize God’s presence in his life journey. He realizes that God has always been with him, guiding him along the path. Often that’s something we recognize only on looking back. Perhaps this may help us as we recount Jim’s story, the journey he was on, all his days.
Psalm 139 O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night," even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.
For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well…. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! I try to count them - they are more than the sand; I come to the end - I am still with you.
Meditation James Gilbert Simpson was born on July 25th 1930 in Baltimore, Maryland. 1930 – the start of the Great Depression – not an easy time to be born into the world. The family doesn’t know too much of Jim’s early years, but they couldn’t have been easy. Families made do the best they could when money was scarce. For Jim’s family that meant allowing the extended family to help out by caring for the children. What was born of necessity became for Jim, something of an adventure – the first chapter of his “Sentimental Journey.”
“Got my bags, and got my reservation…” From a very young age, Jim would travel alone, by train, down to Charlotte, North Carolina, to spend the summer with his favorite Aunt Frances and Uncle Henry. In later years he’d shepherd his little sister Toots on the journey. Those were important years for him that he’d remember in later years by entertaining the family, Standing up and calling out like a conductor the names of each train stop on the way.
But the war was on, and as he entered his teen years the desire to serve his country caused him to lie about his age, leave high school and join the Navy. He entered the service as World War II was winding down.
The five years that he served in the Navy had to have been a real journey toward maturity - a chance to see the world and form some new long-lasting relationships. It was on a troop train, in fact that he met Jim Gatti, someone who remained in his life, always.
When Jim was in port in San Diego, he had the opportunity for a blind date with Pat, whose big brother was his Chief. Quickly he discovered that he’d found his companion for the rest of his life-journey. They were married on April 23rd 1950.
Pat was from El Monte, and it was there they settled, putting down roots that lasted the rest of Jim’s life. Before long Mark, Heidi and Kirk were born – fellow travelers on Jim and Pat’s sentimental journey.
The family is very clear that Jim’s work ethic was incredible. Scrimping and saving, sometimes working two or three jobs, Jim and Pat built a life where their children were well-nurtured, where values were lived-out and where fun was to be found at every turn of the road.
On impulse, the family would take off with their tear drop trailer to spend the weekend camping at the beach. Longer trips in the summer allowed them to see the country, always with an intention to educate and expand the children’s understanding of the real issues that were happening at the time. They saw Atlanta, GA in the 60’s summer of the race riots. They learned the look of homelessness in downtown L.A.
If the family was driving from San Pedro to San Diego, Jim would invariably pick up a hitch-hiking Sailor, remembering his Navy days, much to his children’s protests – “Daddy, No.” But Jim had to help others. That’s just who he was.
Jim was a hard-worker, conscientious in all his responsibilities, working full time for the city of El Monte and nights at the drive-in movie. The kids were included when he could. They had adventures at night in the City Hall when he was cleaning. Mark, imitating Jim, all on his own climbed up the ladder on the water tower. Now that was an adventure!
Jim’s sentimental journey through life was never alone. Right along with family in importance to Jim was friendship. Jim reconnected with his good friend from the navy, Jim Gatti, who had moved to El Monte and happened to be married to Pat’s good friend Twila. These two couples became big parts of their lives along with many more.
Jim and Pat’s home seemed to attract people, their inclusive, reaching out kind of love, their sense of adventure, their profound enjoyment of connecting and laughing together – who wouldn’t want to be part of that?
Heidi notes that they had the skill of picking the right kind of people to be part of their lives so that they were able to live life fully, each of them, right up to the end.
In the last years of Pat’s life, Jim was able to keep the journey going by outfitting a motor home and traveling with her across the country. Even as Pat’s energy was failing, Jim was by her side, right up to the end.
By then they’d moved back to the house on White Flower Lane where the friends and family continued to gather. They’d get together every New Years Eve – it went on for over 29 years.
They were such a class-act together! Pat was probably the one who instigated a lot of the adventures, but Jim was right there with her, providing the ballast.
And who they were for their children went on for the grandchildren as well. Kirk’s children, Gavin, Cozette, Amber and Christa have so many good memories. Amber remembers the impulse overnights with Jim and Pat – wearing Jim’s T-shirts and socks to bed, going out for breakfast and getting waffles with strawberries, or to Gino’s Italian Restaurant for dinner. Christa remembers being awakened at night to get up and share in the ice cream that the grown-ups were enjoying.
Life had had its ups and downs for Jim, all along. It wasn’t always smooth sailing. The hardest time though, was six years ago, when Pat died and Jim had to say goodbye to his most faithful companion on the journey.
After a time of deep sadness, Jim was able to keep going. He began to move out on his own, re-connecting with many of the people who had been part of his life as a child. He went back to Baltimore and North Carolina, spending time with family who join us today in spirit in this time of celebrating a life well-lived.
There’s much that you will miss. Kirk will miss taking care of Jim. How beautiful it is when you know you’ve been raised by someone who took good care of you and you get to return the favor at life’s end. Heidi, will miss just knowing that he’s there. “The stories.” All of you probably would echo that.
It seems that Jim lived out his faith. Never a “religious” man, Jim’s sincerity, his love, his integrity appeared to reflect a quiet inner belief. I’m told that last Thanksgiving, when all the family and friends were gathered together at the table, Jim surprised the family, standing up and saying he wanted to pray. He began, but the feelings were so deep, and Jim, so unaccustomed to putting emotions into words, the prayer turned into tears.
How beautiful! God truly hears the heart cries of one who gives thanks for all that has happened on a long, and sentimental beautiful life with those you love.
It’s hard to even get your mind around the fact that this long. love-filled journey that Jim shared with all of you has been altered. After all, there are four wonderful grandchildren, and a great grandchild who’d still be pleased to see his smile. There are friends to laugh with, trips to take, memories to share. We have questions. We ask the “Why” questions and easy answers don’t come to us. We can begin to know some of the replies to the “how does one go on?” questions. You’ve begun to look in that direction already.
One way is to do what you know how to do well – hang together, supporting one another in love. Keep alive the memories both for you all and for the generations to come. You are all part of this sentimental journey that you’ve traveled with Jim.
My hope is that you would also take comfort from words of the Psalmist that begin -
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.”
A Psalm that concludes
“How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! I try to count them - they are more than the sand; I come to the end - I am still with you.”
Gracious God, We give you thanks for giving us your love through the gift of Jim, and for what that love has meant to all of us, through the years. We thank you for the wonder and mystery of life, for family, friendship and fellowship - for all the ties that bind us together, both now and in the world to come. We thank you for the humor, energy and integrity that Jim brought into our lives. We thank you for his love.
Help us now, Lord, to rest in the hope you have given us. Help us to feel your presence as you grant to each one of us the special comfort of the Holy Spirit who knows intimately not only our particular needs, but how to meet those needs at the deepest level.
Quicken our awareness of your eternal love as we go out into a world that desperately needs your kind of love. Make real your promise never to leave us or forsake us. In Jesus' name we pray... Amen
In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to almighty God our brother Jim, and we commit his body to the ground - earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Blessed are the dead in the Lord, says the Spirit. They rest from their labors, and their works follow them.
And now with the confidence of the children of God, let us pray: "Our Father..."
O God, you have designed this world, and know all things good for us. Give us such faith that, by day and by night in all times and in all places, we may without fear entrust those who are dear to us to your never-failing love, in this life and in the life to come, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
The James Simpson Memorial
Our dad “daddy” was a loving caring man. He would give the shirt off his back to help someone else. To give to the Heifer foundation means that in his name you are helping millions of families around the world become self-reliant.
It is our families wish that in lieu of flowers a donation be made in my fathers name to this great foundation. Thank you for caring and thank you for your kind donation.
The Simpson Kids
On the internet, Go to Heifer.org
Click on Gift Registry
In the box on the right Find Someone’s Registry type in James Simpson and click find.
At the bottom of the page it says View. Click on view.
Choose a gift and donate by clicking on add to cart
All gifts are important.
Thank you so much for your donation. Feel free to pass the word on. All donations are welcome.
If you would like to Donate but don’t want to do it on line here is what you can do.
Make a check out to: Heifer project International
Mail it to:
1 world Ave.
Little Rock, AR. 72202
In the memo write: James Simpson Memorial