Russell A. “Skip” Simpson, 78, a career intercity bus driver who lost a daughter and son to murder within 12 years and who became a persistent advocate for family survivors and their rights, died Tuesday in his West Toledo home.
He had heart problems, his daughter, Linda Lou Simpson, said.
Mr. Simpson and his wife, Patricia, were among the founders in 1983 of the local chapter of Parents of Murdered Children. The national group was formed five years earlier in Cincinnati.
The Simpsons’ daughter Stacy Sue, 4, was found strangled in a garage near their South Toledo home in 1969, a murder for which an 18-year-old neighbor was charged and convicted. Their 19-year-old son Scott was shot to death 12 years later while trying to stop a shoplifter at the supermarket where he was a guard.
At the new chapter’s first meeting in 1983, Mr. Simpson was elected president. He later was on the national organization’s board.
“He had compassion and leadership,” said Maggi Moulton, the chapter’s first secretary. The bodies of her son, Scott, 21, and of Denise Siotkowski, 22, were found in April, 1981, in the trunk of Ms. Siotkowski’s car in Oregon, more than a week after they were last seen. Nearly 20 years later, authorities attributed their murders to the serial killing spree of brothers Anthony and Nathaniel Cook.
“Many people say, ‘I know how you feel.’ Well, they don’t,” Mrs. Moulton said. “And he went through it twice. He knew how to talk to you. The two of them were a big help to everybody.”
As the group started, the parents shared common loss and offered mutual support when few others would.
“Nine months after our daughter’s murder, my wife and I went to see a psychologist because we were still having trouble,” Mr. Simpson told The Blade in 2003. “He listened to us and then said, ‘My God, it’s been nine months. Get on with your lives.’ ”
The parents also shared common frustrations. For instance, those first members said that communication with police seemed to collapse in the weeks after a child’s death as investigators exhausted possible leads.
“We want to increase awareness within the community that parents won’t tolerate the problems faced by parents of murdered children,” Mr. Simpson said in 1983, as he added a caution: “We must do it as a responsible organization, not as individuals or vigilantes.”
It took several years, but Mr. Simpson successfully lobbied longtime Lucas County Prosecutor Anthony Pizza to create a victims’ assistance program. Mr. Simpson received special training through a state program to facilitate face-to-face meetings in prison between crime victims or surviving family members and offenders.
In 2004, Mr. Simpson received a Jefferson Award for public service.
His volunteer work for parents and surviving family members “gave him something to focus on and do something positive,” said daughter Linda Lou, Stacy Sue’s twin. “He had a kind heart. He [had] a tough voice. He knew how to comfort you, and he was good with people.
“He got through it by helping people get through it,” she said.
He retired about 1990 from Greyhound Lines after driving buses for more than two decades.
Late in his career, he worked the Detroit-Muskegon, Mich., run, with his six-days-on, two-days-off schedule starting at 7 a.m. riding a Greyhound as a passenger to Detroit. After breakfast at Detroit’s terminal, he was aboard his own coach by 10:30 a.m. for a 426-mile round-trip run that included six colleges and universities and three state prisons. He rode a Greyhound back to Toledo and was home by midnight.
His Greyhound career included driving retiree charter excursions, his daughter said.
“He liked serving the elderly,” she said. “He liked meeting people and was very social.”
In his own retirement, he was transportation director for the Eleanor Kahle Senior Center and served on the center’s board.
He and his wife took up golf and participated in local leagues — and golfed in their travels, from Jekyll Island, Ga., to Hawaii.
“They really enjoyed the game,” their daughter said. “It was something they could do together.”
He was born Oct. 14, 1934, to Martha and Alfred Simpson and grew up in South Toledo. He was a graduate of Libbey High School and was an Army veteran.
Surviving are his wife, Patricia, whom he married March 29, 1958; daughter, Linda Lou Simpson; son, David, and four grandchildren.
Visitation is 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday in the Newcomer Funeral Home. Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Monday in the mortuary.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.