Nancy Simpson in her role as a commissioner at a 2019 King County Landmarks Commission meeting that gave historic landmark designation to Apollo land rovers built at the Boeing Space Center in Kent. FILE PHOTO, Kent News

Nancy Simpson in her role as a commissioner at a 2019 King County Landmarks Commission meeting that gave historic landmark designation to Apollo land rovers built at the Boeing Space Center in Kent. FILE PHOTO, Kent News

Kent historian, master gardener Nancy Simpson dies at age 80

Roles included Greater Kent Historical Society president; King County Landmarks commissioner

Nancy Simpson, a Kent historian, master gardener and former Greater Kent Historical Society president, died April 2 at the age of 80.

Simpson, born Nov. 17, 1943, died peacefully of natural causes in Renton, according to her obituary.

“Nancy’s journey through life was marked by her unwavering dedication to her family, her passion for history, and her commitment to the beautification of her community through her work as a master gardener and Kent historian,” according to her obituary. “Her love story with her husband, Charles “Chuck” Simpson, was one for the ages, and together they raised two children who inherited her kind spirit and generous nature. As a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister and aunt, Nancy’s legacy is carried on through the lives of those she touched.”

In 2019, Simpson served as a King County Landmarks commissioner when the city of Kent received historic landmark designation for three Apollo lunar rovers during a public hearing at Kent City Hall. The rovers were manufactured at Boeing’s Space Center in Kent during the Apollo program era in the 1970s and used on the moon.

The lunar rover is an untold story to many people who live and work in Kent. The landmark designation helped open that book, especially for youth, which Simpson highly supported.

“They have no idea where these lunar rovers were built, and kids today need to know that,” Simpson said in a 2019 Kent News article in her role as a landmarks commissioner and Greater Kent Historical Society president. “We always challenge them that this is something that happened in your community. It didn’t happen any place else in the world. It happened here. It is something you should be proud of.”

In 2016, Simpson and Sharon Bersaas started the effort to save the old, red Dvorak Barn along Russell Road near the Green River so future generations could know the story about the city’s once booming agricultural industry before warehouses and distribution centers took over much of the Kent Valley.

In 2011, she and her husband were named the Old Timers King and Queen for the Kent Cornucopia Days. Simpson, then 67, said in a Kent News article she was “too young” to be the Old Timers Queen. But she understood what the Greater Kent Historical Society looked for to pick the honorees.

“We understand it means you have lived in the city a long time,” said Simpson, a fourth generation Kent resident.

She knew she and her husband had been around Kent long enough to tell stories about working the farmland in the Kent Valley where warehouse after warehouse now stands.

“I crawled up and down the Valley floor picking strawberries,” Simpson said.

Simpson grew up on Scenic Hill and attended Kent Elementary School, Kent Junior High and Kent-Meridian High School (class of 1962).

She went to work for Tradewell Corporation in the Kent Valley and then to Pacific Bell Telephone company in Seattle. While working at Pacific Bell, she met Chuck Simpson on a blind date in February 1965. They married the following July and set up a home on Kent’s East Hill.

In May 1969 they welcomed their son, Mark Simpson, followed by their daughter, Stacy Simpson, in March 1975. Throughout their school years, she served as PTA co-president, Scouts and Campfire leader, as well as, other various church and community volunteer work. Her volunteer work led her to Judson Park Retirement Community in Des Moines. She spent the next decade there where she was activities coordinator followed by director of resident services.

“Described by all who knew her as loving, kind, and selfless, Nancy’s impact on the world was as profound as it was gentle,” according to her obituary. “She lived a life of service, always putting others before herself and finding joy in the happiness of those around her. Her presence was a comfort, her smile a source of joy, and her actions an inspiration.”

Survivors include her husband Charles “Chuck” Simpson; sister Sally Klatt; son Mark and his wife Lea Ann Simpson; daughter Stacy Simpson and her husband David Gardenhire; granddaughters Taylor and Kaylee Simpson; and grandsons Evan and Karl Affeldt.

Celebration of Life

A Celebration of Life is planned from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 29 at the Kent Senior Center, 600 E. Smith St.

A Nancy Simpson Memorial Scholarship Fund will be created through the Greater Kent Historical Society. Donations are welcomed at the service or through the Greater Kent Historical Society.


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Chuck and Nancy Simpson after they were named the 2011 Old Timers King and Queen for Kent Cornucopia Days. FILE PHOTO, Kent News

Chuck and Nancy Simpson after they were named the 2011 Old Timers King and Queen for Kent Cornucopia Days. FILE PHOTO, Kent News

Sharon Bersaas and Nancy Simpson during a 2016 tour of the Dvorak Barn along the Green River in Kent that the women helped save. FILE PHOTO, Kent News

Sharon Bersaas and Nancy Simpson during a 2016 tour of the Dvorak Barn along the Green River in Kent that the women helped save. FILE PHOTO, Kent News

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