Bethel mayor David Simpson had big plans for the village

David William Simpson, 51, died July 15, 2006, after suffering a series of brain aneurysms that left him in a coma for nearly a week. He was the mayor of Bethel.

A husband, father, and business owner, Simpson was known for his dedication to the job at hand and to his principles. While his stance on issues in village council meetings didn’t always gain him popularity with the council, he could be counted on to fight for what he believed in no matter what the opposition, said daughter Shanna Seibert.

“He had a lot of big plans and visions for Bethel, and unfortunately, he wasn’t able to see them through,” said Seibert. “He could walk anywhere, and if somebody came up to him, you had his undivided attention. He wanted to know your concerns and how he could help you, but also how your family was. He genuinely cared. That was his life. He was an auxiliary officer in Bethel for 12 years. When we had the blizzard, he was right there in the middle of the crisis helping people to get shelter.”

Simpson, born on Nov. 17, 1954, was survived by his wife, Sherry, and his children, Shanna and Jason. He has three grandchildren, six brothers and sisters and numerous nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his mother, Marie Thompson, but was preceded in death by his father, Wilson Simpson Jr. According to Seibert, both Simpson’s father and grandfather also died of brain aneurysms.

“We were on him to get checked, and he’d gone to the doctor a couple of times but they dismissed his headaches as sinus,” said Seibert. “So, I guess he was just taking the word of the doctor that it wasn’t something to be concerned about. Every time he went, they told him the same thing.”

A longtime businessman, Simpson continued the operation of his father’s plumbing business for some years before closing it. He also operated two businesses of his own, a helicopter flight and instructional service and a security service. One, said Seibert, will close, but the other may remain open for some time.

“We will not continue the helicopter business, because you obviously have to know how to fly and be certified,” said Seibert. “As far as the security business, we’re not sure. My brother may continue it for a while, but that hasn’t been talked about much.”

Visitation services were held from 6-9 p.m. July 19 at the E.C. Nurre Funeral Home in Amelia. Funeral services were held on July 20 at the funeral home at 10 a.m., and burial followed in the Tate Township cemetery.

While in office, Simpson was known for revisiting two issues frequently: Bethel youth outreach and the police force. A former auxiliary police officer for the village, Simpson frequently sought new ways to make life better for officers in the village.

“The police department is a big job for just a little bit of money,” said Seibert. “Having been an auxiliary officer, he really took them under his wing. You get the impression from council that the auxiliary is cheap help, that they can be used. When the get in the car and put that bullet-proof vest on, they risk their lives. They have families. He felt that something needed to be done to lift the burden or pay them in some way to show appreciation for their help. Those were his priorities.”

Simpson also worked with a Bethel youth outreach program that has successfully planned a number of activities over the past few years. According to Seibert, Simpson was frequently thanked by parents who credited his help with getting their kids to stay in school and graduate, or get their GED or join the military.

“He was totally devoted to his town, his village, his people, the taxpayers,” said Seibert. “When he ran, it wasn’t to see if he could do it, it was to make a difference. He wanted to deal with all of the things he didn’t think they were focusing on. He also wanted to do things for the youth. He was heartbroken to see kids walking through town who didn’t have support from their parents or family. He wanted to go out and let them know he cared.”

While the job of mayor is not always popular, Seibert said that her father took it all in stride. In the end, she said, the fact that people still came to him for help and advice showed that he was appreciated.

“He didn’t mind being he butt of jokes, he was in the dunking booth at the family fun day,” said Seibert. “But people came to him. It says a lot. I just can’t put into words the type of person he was. Every job he did he took seriously, and did everything to the end. He had three aneurysms and held on for six days.”