Dr. Wallace Simpson passed away peacefully on August 6, 2022. He was born February 2, 1935 in Sisseton, SD, grew up in Minnesota and graduated from Belview High School in 1953. He played basketball, baseball and football and met Rose, his high school sweetheart. They married in 1958 and celebrated their 64th birthday in June. Wally earned his BA from Mankato State University after serving in the United States Army as a Military Policeman. He received his Masters in Educational Administration from the University of Minnesota and his Ph.D. from the University of South Dakota. He served as vice-principal at Willmar High School in Minnesota and taught history and art at the Armed Forces Dependents School in Baumholder, Germany, where eldest son Robin was born. Dr. Simpson was the founding president of Rainy River Community College in International Falls, MN, which also served the Nett Lake Indian Reservation. He and Rose welcomed daughter Nicole and son Chris while living in Rainy Lake. He then became president of Inver Hills Community College in Inver Grove Heights, MN, where he established an educational center and transportation facilities to serve downtown students. Wally and his family later moved to Mesa, AZ, where he served as president of Mesa Community College. His foresight to hire a leader in the Native American community helped the college become a model for recruiting and retaining Native American students. He also helped establish the Chandler-Gilbert Community College. While serving as president of Olympic College in Bremerton, Washington, Dr. Simpson expanded the university’s reach to include campuses in Poulsbo, Shelton, and Bangor Submarine Base. He encouraged those around him to support human rights and integrate communities of color into the fabric of campus life. He helped develop programs for Native American, Black, Asian, and Hispanic students and opened up opportunities for veterans, students with disabilities, and families needing on-site childcare during their classes. By making education more accessible to all, he made a difference for people everywhere he lived and served. He was a kind, generous and loving husband, dad and grandfather who was most at home in Rainy Lake. Wally was predeceased by his loving parents, Wallace and Bea Simpson, his brother Jim Simpson, his son-in-law David Colson; stepmother and stepfather Ethel and Louis Gryting; brothers-in-law Lowell Gryting, Dr. Charles Haight, Dr. Banning Hanscom, Dr. Rolf Brende; and sisters-in-law Laurie Haight, Sandy Gryting and Ronda Simpson. He is survived by his brother Dr. David Simpson and his wife Marlys of Rush Lake, MN; his sweetheart, his wife Rose of Rainy Lake, MN; children Robin Simpson and wife Teri Bentson of Minneapolis; Nicole Colson of Farmington, Minnesota; and Chris Simpson of Chehalis, WA; seven grandchildren, Dr. Bonnie Bentson (Dr. Levi Brown), Ben Simpson and his wife Corin; Ellie and Eva Colson; and Kennedy, Tanner and Grace Simpson. He is also missed by his in-laws Becky Hanscom, Robin Gryting, Julie Brende, Effie and Dr Mick Gimmestad, Bruce Gryting, Brenda and Dr Carl Heltne, and Angie and Dr Phil Huddleston, as well as many dear friends, nieces , nephews and parents. He will be buried in Belview Cemetery in Minnesota, where many of his and Rose’s family are buried. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to MCC’s Office of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement for Scholarships, 1833 W. Southern Ave., Mesa, AZ 85202 or mesacc.edu/philanthropy/ annual giving.
Posted August 13, 2022
Posted in The Arizona Republic