On Oct. 20, family and friends of Maggie Simpson gathered at the Leisure Services gymnasium in Darien to celebrate her life and health of 100 years.
I read her story in the Darien News and called to use the story. Margaret Toussaint interviewed Maggie and wrote about her life. Kathleen W. Russell, the editor and publisher, graciously gave me permission to share it with you.
When word got out that Maggie Simpson was going to be interviewed, about six family members dropped by her place to sit in and sing the praises of their family matriarch, who just passed her 100-year-old mile marker.
“In all my years of being in the world, people want to know my secret,” Simpson said. “All my lifetime, I was good to everybody. I like to share with people. I just love people, especially old people. I’d do a favor for anyone.”
Simpson was born Oct. 20, 1912, to Daphne Wynn and Henry Anderson in the Dorchester community in Liberty County. Simpson lived on the farm of her grandparents, Thomas and Clifford Wynn. She attended school at Dorchester through the third grade. They grew all their own food on the farm and had a smokehouse where they smoked their hams, sausages and bacon after butchering hogs. They had many chickens that ran loose around the farm and furnished eggs or were used for food. A cow furnished milk, and butter was hand-churned from the cream.
When her granddad harvested his crops, he shared his produce with the neighbors. The sharing of time and talent was a lesson Maggie took to heart and practiced throughout her life. After school, she would start working with her mother, Daphne, doing domestic and factory work. At age 11, she moved to Brunswick.
Though short of stature and thin-boned, she married three times and bore seven children. Her kids were Eddie James Harris Jr., Champ Warren, Lige Warren, Henry Warren, Vernell Warren, Willie Dean Warren and Esther Lee Simpson. Of these, only Henry, Willie Dean and Champ have survived. From those seven kids, she had 13 grandchildren, 37 great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren.
Simpson moved in 1963 to Darien and has lived in Mentionville ever since. Three times in her life, she has been burned out, lost everything she owned and had to start over. Maggie kept her hands busy, cleaning her home and yard and tending to her growing brood.
“She used to hum hymns as she cooked breakfast,” Vernell’s daughter, Tracy Carter, said while describing her grandmother as a woman who is deeply spiritual. “She instilled in all of us: Manners will take you where money won’t.”
Carter added that Simpson opened her door to people of all colors and walks of life, even perfect strangers, throughout her life.
Simpson nodded, saying, “That’s the way I was brought up, and that’s the way I am.”
About 30 years ago, Simpson became the primary caretaker for her son, Henry, after an accident. She had a hand in raising all her grandkids and great-grandkids.
Daughter-in-law Myrtle Ann Warren of Corpus Christi, Texas, flew east for the birthday celebration, and she’s a frequent visitor.
“About 30 years ago, I experienced some bad times. She helped me and my children,” Myrtle Ann Warren said. “I don’t know what we would have done without her help. I’ll never, ever forget it.”
Most of the males in the family are shrimpers, so through the years, many people in the Mentionville community have become as close to Simpson as her blood kin.
A niece came up with this slogan to describe Maggie: She is the wealth of our generation. One of Maggie’s favorite sayings is “God, He may not come when you call Him, but He’ll be there right on time!” She gives honor and tribute to God for her longevity.
The above interview was done by Toussaint, but I called her home on Saturday and Simpson answered the telephone. She sounded as spry as a kitten! I introduced myself to her, told her why I was calling and then she handed the phone to her son, Champ. I talked to him and asked him a few questions to ask his mother. She told me she always has loved to cook and could cook anything! Her favorite cakes were a chocolate thin-layer cake and a pound cake. She has been cooking since she was a very young girl, and I imagine she can prepare a delicious meal. Champ told me that he is a shrimper, and I’ll guarantee that his mother can fry up a batch of them that will rival
B & J’s Steak and Seafood Restaurant in downtown Darien — and that is saying a lot!
Miss Maggie, may you have many more years filled with good health and happiness!