Saturday, March 25, 2006


Anita Hart Fuller

Tom, that was beautiful what you posted today. I wish I had some personal encounters with Ernie, but just don't. Here is the only one:

Years ago, when I lived in Oak Park, IL, I went with a friend to a conference (she was a Waddell & Reed financial planner) in a neighboring suburb, can't even remember where. It was in a big motel. We were walking down the corridor going to our meeting room, Ernie was coming toward us, as he was also there for a meeting, Hytrol-related. We both recognized each other about the same time - very surprised, as you can imagine. We hugged right there in the hall.

I had to put one foot out behind me to keep my balance, but as that was the way the movie stars in our day would do when hugged or kissed, my friend just hooted. I don't think she ever believed me that I was about to fall! We didn't talk much, as we both needed to get on with it.

Small world, as we know.As I recall, Frank Thompson was my little band buddy just like you were when I was a big senior. Bet he wouldn't know me today if I walked in his front door. Hi, Frank!

Elois Bleidt Pelton

Hi---I read your comments about Ernest on your web site and I want to thank you for placing it in your web site----a great tribute to the "three" men you wrote about--- I know Ernest would be very please to read the things you and others have written about him....again, thanks!

Tom Pry

And thanks to both of you for contributing, and for the kind words.

Folks, as I get things to post on here, I will do so. I am NOT, though, going to attempt any kind of regular schedule anymore. I’ve done about 600 entries to this site and its predecessor and, even with your help, I’ve run dry. You’ve got to remember that I spent only 5 of my 12 years in school in the Searcy system, so I’m rather limited in my source material.

Keep sending them cards & letters and, when I get them, they’ll appear here. As it is, my own 50th Anniversary Reunion Committee isn’t even communicating with me (it’s set for July 1st at Eagleview, the last I heard), so I’m essentially packing it in on this site.

For you newcomers, you will find a wealth of material in the archives, to the left.

My thanks to those who’ve contributed, some more than others, but ALL welcome.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


"The SHS class of '57 has lost their beloved class president, Ernest Simpson. In my heart are the fond and loving memories we shared in high school. He believed a smile cured all problems; he loved life to its fullest; his laughter was contagious and, for knowing him all of these years, I have grown wiser. He taught me that friendships are the jewels in my crown and to save them all. I have lost a very dear friend and he will be missed, but he will forever be left in my crown." Elois Bleidt Pelton, Class member of '57

For those too early or too late to go to school with Ernie, let me give you a glimpse of the kind of guy he was. Karen and I were going to drive up to Jonesboro on February 18 to see Shelia and Ernie. Here’s the note he sent with a Wal-Mart Gift Card, the last note I was to get from my/our friend.

In a way, Ernie’s story isn’t over. You see … well, let’s do it in the time-honored fashion –

ONCE UPON A TIME, there were three young men named

Larry Maness

Ernest Simpson

Frank Thompson

A sociologist would not have found a lot in common between the three of them. Larry’s dad owned a small diner at the corner of Pleasure and Main Streets, where he sold justly-famous foot-long hot dogs. Frank’s dad was a successful businessman/business owner, and an official of his church. Ernie’s dad worked at the shoe factory as a foreman; the job didn’t pay much.

They met in the first grade and, for the next twelve years, they became (as Ernie described it) “buds.”

Their similarities became more than their differences. All three good students. All three excellent musicians. Larry the Drum Major, Ernie and Frank in All-State Band. Upon graduation, all three went off to college to major in music, and all three became not just good band directors, but OUTSTANDING high school band directors.

Sadly, as happens entirely too often in this world, all three finally left music, because today’s educational system will not pay enough to keep teachers of this caliber. Larry went into school administration, Ernie went to work for Hytrol Conveyors and became an outstanding national dealer instructor, Frank went into banking.

In the late seventies, Larry was in Iowa on a hunting trip, when he had an accident that left him dead in less than an hour. Ernie was diagnosed with prostate cancer early in 2004 and was buried earlier this month.

The GOOD news out of all this is Frank is still with us, and better than ever:

Frank and his wife, Sandy, are living back in Searcy.

So, the three Musicteers live on – in our hearts and, with Frank, in our back yard, I’m happy to report.

Tell us YOUR stories, won’t you, so we can share them?

Saturday, March 11, 2006



The Visitation for Ernest “Ernie” Simpson will be this evening from 5-8, with the funeral tomorrow at 2, both at Emerson Funeral Home in Jonesboro, AR. These are comments we have received and which we now share with you.

Ann Shannon Snodgrass

His death is a loss for all who knew him and benefited from his kindness and humor

Anita Hart Fuller

So sad and sorry about Ernie. I had hoped he could pull out of it.

Kayte Wattam (Pittsburgh)

My sympathies on the loss of your friend, Ernie. He sounds like the kind of guy I would have been proud to know, too.

Gene Barnett

I was so saddened to read about Ernie's passing from this life. He was a super guy and a great friend since childhood. He will be missed all who knew him.

Dan E. Randle

This is a very sad day. When I received the news of Ernie's death, I cried for the loss. I forwarded the email to Al English. I plan to make a donation to the American Cancer Society in Ernie's name. I think that will honor him more than sending flowers. Now it's just you and me. (The family has since requested contributions to the ACS in lieu of flowers. –tlp-)

Draxie Horn Rogers

Tom, I know you were a very good friend to Ernie. Rest assured your feeling of great loss is felt by many more of your and his friends. This, indeed, is a very sad time. The most comforting thought is that his pain is gone and he is now resting in God's arms. However, before long, I feel certain he will be cast as one of the main trumpeters -- right along with Louis Armstrong! And won't he love that! (Yeah, he will – although he’ll insist that Rafael Mendez join them.)

Jim Bohannon

Rest in Peace, Ernie. You are now with the Angels in Heaven.

Jef (in the Philippines)

I'm sorry to hear about Ernie. I read your previous post about him and he indeed exuded what it is like to be a great person inside and out. With the poverty he endured in his earlier life, he might have been justified to be bitter and a self-loathing person...but he traveled the road less taken and brought forth the quality of a very optimistic man: a man that should be emulated. I'm pretty sure the Lord has a new "angel" recruit.

Rest in Peace, old chum.

Ernest Simpson 1939-2006

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Thanks to Jo Ann Roth and Stuart Simpson for putting me onto Ernie's obit. In true Ernie fashion, this is the best obituary of its type that I've ever seen. -tlp-

Ernest "Ernie" Lee Simpson (June 5, 1939 - March 8, 2006)

Ernest “Ernie” Lee Simpson died Wednesday, March 8, 2006 at NEA Medical Center in Jonesboro. He was born June 5, 1939 in Sidon, Arkansas to Alvin and Velma Simpson.

He graduated from Searcy High School in 1957 and went on to Arkansas State University to earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Music degree. At ASU he was an active member of Lambda Chi Alpha, Kappa Kappa Psi, and Phi Mu Alpha.

He went on to teach band at Cooter Missouri, Manila, Nettleton, and Jonesboro High School. During that time, he was President of the Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association, a member of the Dixie Band Camp Board, and Adjudicator for Marching and Concert Bands and Solo and Ensemble Contest in Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri. The school bands that he directed consistently received superior ratings in marching and concert contests.

In 1979, Ernie left band directing and accepted a position at Hytrol, where he was Manager of Distributor Education, until he retired in 2004. While at Hytrol, he helped train over 4000 distributors. Ernie was a member of First United Methodist Church, Fast Glass Corvette Club and president and chief range officer for the Jonesboro Practical Pistol Shooters (JPPS).

He was preceded in death by his son Scott Simpson, and his brother Jim Simpson.

He is survived by his wife Shelia Simpson, son and daughter-in-law, Stuart and Amy Simpson, Grandchildren Lynlie, Luke, and Logan Simpson, Brother and sister-in-law Steve and Lavada McArthur Van and Malinda Vandergriff.

Funeral services will be 2:00 PM Sunday, March 12, 2006 at Emerson Memorial Chapel with Chaplain Edward Pruitt and comments by Bill Hawthorne with burial to follow at Nettleton Cemetery with Emerson Funeral Home in charge of arrangements. Pallbearers are Al Poston, Bill Hawthorne, Bill Faulkner, Don Jones, Terry Robinette, Steve Barkley, Phillip Poston, and Jamie Caradine. Honorary pallbearers are members of the Fast Glass Corvette Club, and Jpps, Dr. Carroll Scroggin, Dr. Jason Casey, Sam Leone, and the Hytrol family.

For lasting memorials, the family request you please consider the American Cancer Society,

Visitation will be from 5-8 Saturday night at Emerson Funeral Home.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Stuart Simpson (Ernie's Son)

We'll have visitation on Saturday from 5-8 and the funeral will be on Sunday at 2 pm. Both will be held in the chapel at Emerson's (in Jonesboro, AR).


It with great sadness I tell you that Ernie Simpson passed away this morning at 8:18 a.m. As soon as I have further information on arrangements, we will pass the information on to you.

Shelia, Stuart and Amy

Sunday, March 05, 2006


The most recent issue of the White County Historical Society’s always-excellent newsletter carried a somewhat truncated version of my long-ago entry about getting to-and-from the old Honey Hill School. It brought forth this e-mail from someone you just might remember:


Read with much interest your article in the WCHS newsletter about Honey Hill School. I, too, attended school there for a short period of time in 1947 (from mid-Feb to mid-Apr, as I recall). My dad was a cotton farmer, and we were moving from the King Farm near Crosby to the old Franks Place between DesArc Creek and the foot of Peanut Ridge. For whatever reason, we had to vacate the farm we were renting on the King place, and couldn't move into the house on the Franks place until mid April or so. Mrs. Kellough, who in 1947 was a teacher at Honey Hill, let us live in a little house she had on her place while we were waiting to move into our new home.

When I moved away from the old Crosby country school, I was half way through the 5th grade and my brother, Lee, was in the 3rd. We usually walked with Mrs. Kellough a mile or so to school. On some of the colder days, we would ride with her in a Model A Ford. When we were ready to move on over to the Franks place, there was still a few week of school left, but Mrs. Kellough must have felt sorry for my brother and me. She marked our records that we had "passed" to the next higher grade.

The Franks place was right on the end of the McRae school district and I entered the 6th grade in McRae and rode a school bus several miles to school. We moved away from there in February, 1948, to the Kensett area, where I attended school until mid-way through the 9th grade, at which time we moved to the Higginson area which was in the Searcy school district. I graduated from high school at Searcy in 1954.

Getting back to Honey Hill School . . . I'm trying to remember some of the names of kids from that short stint in 1947. I believe there were two Hartsfield brothers and perhaps a sister of theirs. Were there kids named Kitts and Simpson? Wasn't the old school building, or at least some portions of it, made of natural rock from the surrounding hillsides?

I've traveled over various parts of the world during my 68 years here on earth, and many of my fondest memories are centered around the old Crosby country school where I attended for 4 & 1/2 years. So, I share your sentiments about times and places that have long since faded into the shadows of history. I shared my memories of growing up in Crosby in the January, 2003, edition of the WCHS publication.

Would enjoy hearing more of what you did after Honey Hill. Did we attend high school together? I'm sure we have a lot of mutual friends and acquaintances. I have three sisters and a brother who still live in the Searcy area.

Thanks for sharing.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


Tom Pry

First, I have no further word on Ernie. His wife, Shelia, cut off communication with me a week ago, offended by something I had innocently written for all of you (since removed from the site), and Stuart (Ernie’s surviving son) has not responded to my last e-mail.

If I hear anything, I’ll post it immediately.

Gene Barnett

Take a listen to this, it’s sssoooooo cool:

(Note: You may have to try this several times over a couple of days because whoever owns the site only gets so many hits a day to use. –tlp-)

Roland King

You asked about the french kissing of the football Homecoming court. Did anyone know when or if that happened? I played football from '49 through '54 and I seemed to remember something like that in the early 50s, as you said. I want to say that it was the '52 team that graduated in '53. Roger Vaughan or Dean Langford might remember.

I’ve heard various names, like Susie Hoffman Boyett, Sid Quattlebaum, and others. Does make me curious, though. Anyone remember?


I’ve received an out-of-town query rather desperately trying to find out what ever happened to Brenda Daniels. If anyone can help out with that, please get in touch with me. I’ve already spoken with Frank Thompson (who’s decided to rejoin the human race and, actually, sounded quite cheerful, as did his lovely bride, Sandy) and Sue Deans Eckdahl and her husband, Sonny.

Available evidence so far would seem to indicate that, sometime in 1958, she climbed into a hole, and then pulled the hole in after her.

This one’s kind of important, boys and girls so, if you can help, please do so.