Thursday, May 12, 2005


10/27/04, was Ernie Simpson’s last day as an employee of Hytrol Conveyors in Jonesboro, having reached retirement age. He offered this thoughtful valedictory.

Ernie Simpson, just after Retirement Posted by Hello
It won’t be long now. Just a few things have to come down off the wall, and I’m ready. Woo-Hoo! I think it could all fit in one box, and that’s a good thing.

This is not my first office here; in fact, this makes office No.4 in twenty–five years. We’ve learned here that it’s best not get too comfortable in a spot, ‘cause it will probably change. My first office came as Asst. Manager of Marketing, then, Manager of Marketing, then, Manager of Distributor Education. Twenty-five years ago, an officer of the company, Ralph Pocobello, told me, “Well, we can’t guarantee you a vice-presidency.” Yep, he was right.

When you glance around here, there are some things I’ll be glad to take with me because, over the years, there are some special things on these walls that tell a personal story. I have enjoyed this office, and perhaps a few good decisions have been made from this position. Let me give you a little tour, as it will be the last from here.

On my desk of course, are photos of my bride, Shelia, granddaughter Lynlie, mom, and my two sons.

1. Facing directly across from my desk is a large lithograph of Napoleon given to me by a printer with whom we did business back when I was in charge of graphics here. Napoleon is pictured here on a wild-eyed stallion, and looks very heroic, but the truth is, Napoleon rode a mule in battle. They were more sure-footed, and their stamina was better. They didn’t look as heroic, however, so the artist put him on a stallion, rearing on its two hind legs. I always thought the lithograph to be humorous.

2. A plaque presented in 1988, proclaiming Ernie Simpson President of the Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association, for the years 1977-1978. The association invited all past presidents to a special presentation and gave the plaques at All-State Band that year.

3. An original cartoon strip of Funky Winkerbean, drawn and autographed to me by its author, Tom Batuik, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It depicts Harry Dinkle, Worlds Greatest Band Director, instructing his band as they leave for the Rose Bowl Parade.

“I just want to remind all of you to be on your best behavior before, during and after the Tournament of Roses Parade.”

“Remember….you’re a Westview High School Marching Scapegoat….”

“… and I expect you to ACT like one!”

That was the year Jonesboro High went to the Tournament of Roses Parade, and although I had left Jonesboro High and been at Hytrol for a time, Stuart and Amy were in the parade. That cartoon is special to me.

4. Below that, a picture of my dear friend, Al Poston and me, right after a summer Jonesboro Community Concert we had conducted. It was hot, and we now had our ties loosened, faces still red, but glad the concert was over.

5. A plaque, announcing FIRST PLACE in the September 6, 1997, 10th Annual Corvette Show in Searcy, at Berryhill Park.

6. A copy of a Picasso done in 1955, of Don Quixote. I always believed Don Quixote to be a special man to be looked up to, for his perseverance in the face of great odds. I have a favorite toast and salute I present whenever I have the opportunity:
“Here’s to the windmills, and the skinny little guys with spindly legs who keep trying to knock them over.”

7. An 8x10 photo I made in 1989, of Rabbit Island, located on the windward side of O’ahu. Monte and I were in Hawaii to do some distributor training.

8. A large print; “Robert Mondavi Summer Jazz Festival, 1985.” I loved that print, and that winery.

9. A portrait of my beloved brother and me, I was fifty, he was forty-five. We had our picture made every five years together and presented it to mom. That was our last one together.

10. Words by Jan Michelsen, that I offer as advice, that I had matted and framed, called, “Celebrate Life”.

Think Freely. Practice Patience.
Smile often. Savor special moments.
Live God’s message. Make new friends.
Rediscover old ones.
Tell those you love that you do.
Feel deeply. Forget trouble. Forgive an enemy.
Hope. Grow. Be crazy. Count your blessings.
Observe miracles. Make them happen. Discard worry.
Give. Give in. Trust enough to take.
Pick some flowers. Share them.
Keep a promise. Look for rainbows. Gaze at stars.
See beauty everywhere. Work hard.
Be wise. Try to understand.
Take time for people. Make time for yourself.
Laugh heartily. Spread joy. Take a chance.
Reach out. Let someone in. Try something new.
Slow down. Be soft sometimes.
Believe in yourself. Trust another. See a sunrise.
Listen to rain. Reminisce. Cry when you need to.
Trust life. Have faith. Enjoy wonder.
Comfort a friend. Have good ideas.
Make some mistakes, Learn from them.
Celebrate life.

So friends, here’s a tour of my old office, now I can say adieu to it, and look forward to this commencement, retirement.

May this old office serve those who come after, as well as it has me. To quote Gus McCrae one more time: “Woodrow, it’s been quite a party.”

Now, let the real party begin.

Ernie Simpson,
October 26, 2004


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