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Publication: Globe and Mail, The add link
Issue: 20 August 2009, page L8
Title: Gerald Kenneth Simpson (Lives Lived)
Web Link: link

Gerald Kenneth Simpson

Husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, entrepreneur, benefactor. Born Nov. 29, 1910, in Fairhaven, Deer Island, N.B. Died March 18 in St. Andrews, N.B., of congestive heart failure, aged 98

Gerald Simpson lived 97 years in the house on Deer Island, N.B., where he was born. He was the youngest of eight children of sardine fisherman George Simpson and his wife, Florence Calder Simpson.

Educated in the two-room school in the village of Fairhaven, Gerald met his wife, Hazel Smith, when she came to the island to teach school. They married in 1933 and had two daughters, Sandra and Sylvia.

An industrious and self-taught entrepreneur, Gerald became licensed as an electrician and plumber, and operated his contracting business on Deer Island until he retired at 93. He had wanted to retire a few years earlier, but since he was the only electrician and plumber on the island he felt he would be letting his friends and neighbours down. When crippling arthritis finally forced him to stop working, he apologized to everyone.

Gerald?s long career had several milestones. In the 1940s, he worked with the crew on the power lines to bring electricity from the New Brunswick mainland across to Deer Island. Sometimes in the summer he travelled on the mail boat to Campobello Island to work on the summer homes of wealthy Americans. There he met Eleanor Roosevelt and was photographed with her while he was wiring her home before it was made into an international park.

Meticulous in his work, Gerald had a prodigious memory. He knew the location of every pump and septic tank on Deer Island and the year it was installed. He had an amazing amount of energy even as he aged.

Gerald was devoted to his family, church and community. A dedicated Baptist, he served as church clerk, deacon, Sunday school superintendent and choir member. He was a generous benefactor of Acadia University in Nova Scotia, founded the Simpson Lectures at Acadia Divinity College and established a scholarship in memory of his parents.

When Hazel died of old age in 1997, Gerald took over the gardening and cooking that she used to do. In his retirement, he kept his mind sharp by reading biographies, discussing politics, listening to classical music and doing crossword puzzles. A faithful newspaper reader, he also kept up with the news through his computer, which he learned to use at 87.

Gerald was a smart, disciplined, hard-working man with a good sense of humour who set high standards for himself and those around him, as anyone working with him soon came to realize. He was highly respected and much loved for his indomitable spirit, which sustained him to the end of his long life.

Sandra Nowlan is Gerald?s daughter.