R.I.P. Lee W. Simpson

Fryingpan-Arkansas Project via the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Anthony A. Mestas):

A longtime Southeastern water advocate and founding member of the St. Charles Mesa Water Association has died.

Lee W. Simpson, of Pueblo, died on Oct. 18. He was 86.

Simpson was on the Southeastern Board of Directors from 1981-2009, and served as the treasurer of the board from 1988-2009.

He also was the founder of the St. Charles Mesa Water District, and extremely active in helping small water districts throughout the state improve service. He played a big role in creating the Colorado Rural Water Association. He also represented St. Charles Mesa Water on the board of the Bessemer Ditch.

“Lee was a remarkable man, and a guy who truly understood the relationship of municipal water needs and irrigation. He was on the Bessemer Ditch board and the Southeastern Board during some of the most tumultuous times for water transfers in the Arkansas Valley, yet always kept his composure. He was modest and unassuming, yet had done some of the most important work in the water community. I can’t think of anyone who did not respect his opinion and admire what he had done,” said Chris Woodka, Issues Management Program Coordinator with the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

Woodka, who wrote many years for The Pueblo Chieftain as its water expert, said: “I think it’s a testament to his passion for water that two of his children both pursued careers in water. David followed him as general manager of the St. Charles District and on the Southeastern board. Tom worked for the Southeastern District, State Engineer and now for Aurora. Both have told me how much they gained from their father’s knowledge about water.”

Born on June 6, 1931, in Pueblo, Simpson served in the U.S. Air Force and was the first board president and founding member of the Saint Charles Mesa Water Association.

He was also the first general manager of the St. Charles Mesa Water District and served in that capacity until his retirement in 2000.

Simpson served on numerous boards, including the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Pueblo County School District 70 Board of Education, Bessemer Irrigating Ditch Co. and Centennial Bank of Blende; and was instrumental in development of the Colorado Rural Water Association.

Simpson is survived by his wife of 65 years, Kathryne Simpson; children, Vicky Adkins of Pueblo, William (Linda) Simpson of Canon City, David (Kathy) Simpson of Pueblo and Tom (Suzanne) Simpson of Pueblo; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A memorial service was held Monday in the Montgomery & Steward Chapel. Montgomery & Stewart Funeral Directors handled the arrangements.

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