Ruby Simpson, a resident at Life Care Center of Brookfield, Missouri, turned 102 on Jan. 20, 2016, and she’s still going strong.
For her 99th birthday, Simpson went on a motorcycle ride during a family vacation to Texas, and for her 100th, she rode in a hot air balloon. This year, she enjoyed a party at the facility and an interview with a local TV reporter.
Several factors have contributed to Simpson’s local celebrity status. For starters, her spunky personality wins over almost everyone she meets. She has won her Missouri Health Care Association district’s Ms. Nursing Home Pageant and placed first runner-up in the statewide pageant.
Simpson is also an author. Her book, “That’s my Grandma,” has sold more than 300 copies. The idea came from letters she wrote to her eldest granddaughter sharing stories and advice from her life.
Born in 1914 in the country a little north of Bucklin, Missouri, Simpson has been active from the get-go. Growing up in a two-room home, she was responsible for a lot of farm-style chores and took care of her mother, who was sick and in bed much of the time.
Her family life was still a happy one, and Simpson attributes her longevity to the heritage she learned at home.
“My parents were religious,” Simpson said. “They kept me safe, taught me right from wrong and taught me to keep my faith no matter what life might throw at me.”
Simpson went on to start a family of her own, marrying Gilmer Simpson in November 1934. Gilmer worked on a farm not far away, and they set up house with a milk cow and a few chickens. Then along came two children – Mary Jo and Connie.
When the United States entered World War II, Gilmer went to work for North American Bomber Plant in Kansas City. Simpson had two more children during that time – Darroll and Roger. Sadly, Darroll passed away of pneumonia when he was only 9 months old.
After the war, the Simpsons bought a small farm with a country store and gas station. Simpson ran the store, while Gilmer did welding and blacksmithing. Simpson didn’t stop there, though – she also helped pump gas and sewed dresses for her neighbors, cutting out patterns from old newspapers. Sometimes she even had the dress done within a few hours.
Making sorghum was a highlight of the year for the family as well, and children came to watch on field trips. Simpson provided them with homemade cookies made with sorghum to eat on the ride back to school.
After retirement, the Simpsons traveled a lot throughout North America, including to Alaska and Canada’s Northwest Territories.
Gilmer passed away in 2005, after more than 70 years of marriage, and that was when Simpson began writing her letters to her granddaughter. It was a way of remembering and healing from the void in her life that Gilmer had left.
Playing pitch has also become a passion for Simpson, and she has organized card-playing groups three to four days a week.
“Ruby is truly an inspiration to all,” said Carl Wright, executive director at Life Care Center of Brookfield. “She shares her faith in the Lord with others and enjoys time spent with her family and friends.”
Simpson is already looking forward to her 105th birthday, which, she says, will be a “hum-dinger.”