Funeral services for Jack B. Simpson, widely recognized as the oldest living peace officer in the country until his death on Aug. 5 at age 96, are set for Wednesday, Aug. 12, at 10:30 a.m. at Scot Ward Funeral Home in Conyers.
Following the funeral, the procession to entombment will go to Georgia National Cemetery in Canton where a private ceremony is planned, according to an obituary from Scot Ward Funeral Home.
A viewing will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 11, at Scot Ward Funeral Home at 699 American Legion Road NE. in Conyers.
The legacy of Simpson, a native of Barnesboro, Pennsylvania, began with a “youthful dream” in which he was determined to follow, according to an April 9, 2020, interview with The Newton Community Magazine.
His dream to become an FBI agent led him to his involvement in some of the most prominent times in American history, such as World War II and the Civil Rights Movement.
Simpson landed a clerical job with the FBI as a fingerprint classifier following his graduation from high school. A foot in the door, he was still unable to accomplish his dream to become an FBI agent until he obtained a degree in law or accounting, which was economically unfeasible at the time.
By 1939, Simpson’s dream was delayed once more, as the FBI did not want to train someone who might be called to serve the country. Ultimately, he volunteered to serve, and he enlisted in the Army. He was sent to Camp Butner, North Carolina, where he trained and became a combat infantry soldier. As a light artillery gunner, he was involved in the invasion of Anzio Beach in Italy and southern France, earning two Bronze stars.
After the war, Simpson returned home where he continued to pursue his dream to become an FBI agent. Through the GI Bill, he earned bachelor’s and master's degrees. While he was working as a teacher, and was in his first year of law school, an inspector from the FBI encouraged him to take the test to qualify as an agent. He passed the test and for the next 23 years, he served as a special agent for the FBI.
During his time as a special agent, Simpson was involved in some of the most vital moments of the Civil Rights Era such as Gov. George Wallace's "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” at the University of Alabama in 1963, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr in 1968, and the Lemuel Penn murder investigation in Athens.
“When I worked in the civil rights period, black and white didn’t mean anything to me,” Simpson once said. “If you’re a decent human being and you’re doing right and trying to make a contribution to society, you’re my kind of folks.”
Once he left the FBI, Simpson served the next 35 years as a bailiff, first with the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office then with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office.
He began working as a part-time investigator with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, where he worked three days a week. He did most of his investigative work on the phone and computer. He also taught diversity classes to deputies as part of the block training at the Sheriff’s Office.
At the time of his death, he had worked for the Newton County Sheriff’s Office for 20 years; he served from April 13, 1999, up until his passing on Aug. 5, 2020.
Back in May 2016, at the age of 91, Simpson and Sheriff Ezell Brown travelled to Jackson, Mississippi, for the Jackson Division Leadership Conference at which "Mr. Jack" was the guest speaker. This goes to show that he was an inspiration and offered a wealth of knowledge to many across the United States and abroad, Brown said.
“Mr. Jack Simpson set the tone for the women and men who clocked in and out of our office every day. He showed up, did his job, and made sure that his fellow officers represented our profession,” Brown said. “He helped us garner much from the past and helped us look forward to an even richer future. He was a walking history book, author, speaker, and even found time to write a column for The Rockdale Citizen. He actually lived the history that most of us read about in textbooks, and we are blessed that he freely shared it with us.”
In his personal life, Simpson was also an author of two books and assisted longtime Georgia political reporter and columnist Bill Shipp in writing the "Murder at Broad River Bridge." Simpson received a congressional citation from 4th District U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, R-Lithonia, for his public service.
Additionally, he was a member of the Oral History Project and a life member of the Society of Former Special Agents.
Simpson was married to Dorothy “Dottie” Simpson and together, they parented four children.
According to his obituary, in lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Simpson's honor to The Random Acts of Kindness Program, Newton County Sheriff's Office, 15151 Alcovy Road, Covington, GA 30014.
According to the obituary, a live stream of the funeral service will be provided and will be available at 10:30 a.m. at https://www.scotward.com/obituaries/Jack-Simpson-5/#!/Obituary.