NCSO cel­e­brates Deputy Jack Simp­son's 91st birth­day

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - BRYAN FAZIO bfazio@cov­

There are two oaths Jack Simp­son has lived by for most of his en­tire life: “I will do my best to do my duty to God and County,” and “If you sit around when you get older you will rust.”

Both say­ings, one in­stilled upon him as a Boy Scout in ru­ral Penn­syl­va­nia and the other told to him by his grand­fa­ther, have mod­eled who he is to­day. A New­ton County Sher­iff’s Deputy who just cel­e­brated his 91st birth­day. Simp­son is also a vet­eran of World War II who was in the in­va­sions of Anzio and South­ern France, a sto­ried for­mer FBI Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tor, hus­band, fa­ther and grand­fa­ther.

Last Satur­day, July 4 his chil­dren and grand­chil­dren joined him for his 91st from Washington, D.C. where his son is a re­search sci­en­tist for the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Health, for a full day of lunch at Butcher Block, a spe­cial din­ner at Stalvey’s and a party back at his home near the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Rock­dale County.

Two days later when he ar­rived at work, NCSO Cap­tain Keith Crum asked to see Simp­son in a con­fer­ence room at the NCSO Law En­force­ment Cen­ter. Once there many of Simp­son’s peers and Sher­iff Ezell Brown greeted him with a song and birth­day cake.

“It was a to­tal sur­prise,” Simp­son said. “I had a re­ally spe­cial day.”

Simp­son has been with the NCSO for more than 15 years. Prior to join­ing NCSO, he served as bailiff for for­mer Rock­dale Su­pe­rior Court Judge Clarence Vaughn, who per­son­ally re­quested the re­tired FBI spe­cial agent, Simp­son, af­ter a new cir­cuit was made in the county.

When Vaughn re­tired, Simp­son went to work in the newly opened ju­di­cial cen­ter in New­ton County.

He now serves as a part­time in­ves­ti­ga­tor who works from the NCSO Law En­force­ment mak­ing phone calls and do­ing online re­search three days a week to try and close cases. Af­ter all that’s what Simp­son is fa­mous for clos­ing cases, one in par­tic­u­lar.

Simp­son was with the FBI dur­ing the civil rights era and was called over to Athens af­ter Le­muel Penn was mur­dered. Penn was an ed­u­ca­tor from Washington D.C. who was trav­el­ing back to Fort Ben­ning and passed through Athens at the time when the Ku Klux Klan was out in white robes try­ing to pre­vent the in­te­gra­tion of the Var­sity.

“They were stand­ing in the street and saw three blacks with tags form Washington, D.C., and one of them said, ‘ there goes one of pres­i­dent John­son’s boys.’” Simp­son said. “They thought they were out­side ag­i­ta­tors com­ing through town and they fol­lowed them out of town and one of them stuck a shot­gun out the win­dow, pulled the trig­ger and killed Le­muel Penn.

Simp­son learned all this from, not only be­ing one of the in­ves­ti­ga­tors on the case, but also be­ing in the ques­tion­ing room with Penn’s mur­derer.

“I was lucky enough to get the con­fes­sion that broke that case,” Simp­son said. “I’m listed on the FBI’s most fa­mous cases and in the Na­tional Law En­force­ment Mu­seum in Washington, D.C. for that case.”

Dur­ing his time with the FBI Simp­son also went with At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ni­cholas deBelleville Katzen­bach when he went to con­front Ge­orge Wal­lace at the Univer­sity of Alabama, and was one of the agents who searched James Earl Ray’s car af­ter he as­sas­si­nated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Now he passes on the wis­dom earned through work­ing all those cases to deputies at the NCSO.

“That’s one of the thrills of be­ing an old timer,” Simp­son said. “You’re able to men­tor some of the younger of­fi­cers. You of­fer what you can and hope­fully it will be help­ful to them.”

Even though he just passed 91, Simp­son said he still wants to con­trib­ute and serve his com­mu­nity and con­tinue to work as the state’s old­est, cer­ti­fied on duty peace of­fi­cer.

“I’m hop­ing to serve as long as I can,” Simp­son said. “I en­joy mak­ing my con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety. I still don’t want to rust sit­ting on my porch.”

Bryan Fazio / The Cov­ing­ton News

Bryan Fazio / The Cov­ing­ton News

Jack Simp­son and Ezell Brown celebrate Jack's birth­day Mon­day.

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