Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Oletia Simpson


Oletia Simpson, age 83, passed away in her St. John home on Saturday, May 15, surrounded by her family.

Letia was born Gladys Oletia Johnson on May 9, 1938, to Lindell Scott and Mildred Dawn (Pike) Johnson, in Dyersburg, Tenn. One of the early family homes was a school building in rural Dyer County. Times were hard, and the family struggled to make ends meet. She remembered a typical Christmas when she received an orange and candy in her stocking. Later, the family moved into the town of Dyersburg and her father worked for the nearby cotton mill. The Johnson family was very active in the church, and many of Letia's fondest memories were about church functions.

In 1955 Letia met Alvon Davis, who was stationed nearby in the Navy, and they married on October 8th. Letia quickly became close to the Davis family and soon referred to her in-laws, Walt and Edna (Workman) Davis, as Mom and Dad. His first assignment after their marriage was to Kodiak Island, Alaska. After Von left the service, they moved to Arizona, where their children Jon and Connie were born. Von and his brother Leslie were engaged in the crop-dusting business with their father. The family moved to Washington state in 1960, where Von and Letia were active in the local Jaycees. Von was killed in an airplane crash in 1968.

After Von's death, Letia went to work for KCLX and was an Avon representative. A mutual friend introduced her to Tom Simpson, who was then teaching 7th and 8th grade at Colfax Elementary School; they married in 1969 and had a son Jim. Tom began farming in 1976 and they sold their home in Colfax in 1979 to move to the family farm on Rock Lake. Letia adapted quickly to farm life, maintaining a large garden, driving truck, helping with haying, cattle, and all aspects of the operation. Letia and Tom were active in the Kenova Grange where she was a Past Master. She also belonged to the Daughters of the Nile. She contributed to the community quilt project of the Ewan Neighbor's Club and made over one hundred quilted items in her lifetime. Letia enjoyed cross-country trips to visit family in Tennessee and Arizona and spending time with her grandchildren.

Letia was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2004 and underwent surgery and radiation therapy, and the next 17 years of life were a gift. These years included a cruise to Hawaii, attending graduations, weddings, and reunions and meeting her five great-grandchildren.

Letia was preceded in death by her parents, Lindell and Mildred Johnson; her brothers, Junior, Billy and L.S. Johnson; and sisters Juanita and Earline Drake. Letia is survived by her husband Tom; her children Jon Davis, Connie Davis, and Jim Simpson; three grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; her brother Dawson (Faye) Johnson, and sister Jessie (Lloyd) Scott of Dyersburg, Tennessee.

A funeral service for Letia will be held on Friday, May 21, 2021, at 1 p.m. at the St. John Methodist Church followed by a graveside service at the Pine City Cemetery. Donations may be made to Rosalia or St. John Fire Departments. Bruning Funeral Home is caring for the family. Online condolences may be made at http://www.bruningfuneralhome.com.


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