Donald Leroy Simpson

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Donald Leroy Simpson

Donald Leroy Simpson, 83, passed away at his home in Houston on Feb. 6, 2013.

Born in rural Deaf Smith County, Texas, on Dec. 29, 1929, his family soon moved to Oklahoma where they fled the dust bowl and finally settled in Ajo, Arizona. Donald graduated in 1948 from Ajo High School where he lettered in football and basketball. He worked for the US Forest Service before joining the U.S. Army and served in Japan and Korea.

He graduated in 1956 with a BS in Mining Engineering from the  University of Arizona and married Maria Luisa Jugo in September of that year.  He worked as an engineer for Phelps-Dodge in Ajo for a year, and then for Kennecott Copper Corporation in Ray for 13 years, relocating with the town to Kearny, where he and his family were deeply involved in the community.

In 1965, he attended Harvard Business School, where he received a Certificate from the Advanced Management Program. His family moved to Toronto, Ontario in 1970, where he worked for CE Lummus, which sent him on consultations for mining operations all over the world. In 1975, he returned with his family to Arizona where he was superintendent of Hecla Mining Company’s electrowinning plant at Lakeshore Mine outside Casa Grande. In 1978, he took over as general manager of Smoky Valley Mining in Round Mountain, Nevada, which became the largest heap-leach gold mining operation in the world. In 1986, Echo Bay Mines, then owner of Round Mountain Gold, transferred Donald and his family to Reno Nevada where he was Vice-President of Western Operations.  

In the 1990s, he lived in Denver and Wichita and finally retired to Tucson. In 2007, he and Maria moved to Houston, Texas.

Donald was an enthusiastic golfer and tennis player as well as a guitar player and singer who introduced to his children American folk music. He was one of the founders of The Tailings Pond Trio, which performed at community events in Ray and Kearny. The family sang together at countless hootenannies and other celebrations.

He is survived by his wife, Maria, and children Don, LeslieAnne, Jeanmarie, Daniel, Jeff and Scott; 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was buried with military honors at Houston National Cemetery on Feb. 12.

Contributions may be made in his memory to the Donald L. Simpson Community Center in Hadley, Nevada.

December 29, 1929 – February 6, 2013

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