Ruth Elizabeth Hill Simpson, 91, of Siler City, N.C., died peacefully on Sunday morning, May 22, 2011 at the Care View Nursing Home. She was preceded in death 15 years ago by her husband of 61 years, the Rev. Claude Lee Simpson. Ruth is survived by her three children: Delane Winfree of Greensboro, Joan Holder of Chapel Hill and Mitchell Simpson (Betty Brooks Simpson), also of Chapel Hill; six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren; a brother, M. D. Hill of Charlotte; a sister, Fran Harris, also of Charlotte; and a host of nieces and nephews.
Born July 24, 1919 in Waxhaw, N.C., to Walter and Elizabeth Hough Hill, the second of eight children, Ruth had six brothers and one sister. Married at age 16 to her 19-year-old sweetheart, Claude Simpson, she was his faithful and loving companion through a lifetime of ministry. During the first years of their marriage, they lived in rural Union County, where they labored together as partners in farming. Strong people of faith, they were active members of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Claude served as a deacon. When he surrendered to a call to ministry, Claude completed his college requirements at Wingate College and the family moved to New Orleans in 1952 for Claude and Ruth to pursue seminary education.
In an era when theological education was generally limited to men, Ruth combined homemaking duties with a strict regimen of study alongside her husband, and in 1955 she became a proud graduate of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Through the years of their marriage, Ruth was a constant companion and full partner in the busy life of the pastorate. Ever the teacher and encourager, she instilled in her children a love for books and reading and an abiding respect for the learning process. She loved music and singing, and was blessed with an easy laugh and a constant willingness to see the best in others.
She embodied the Christian conviction of faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
During the early 1960s, when Claude accepted the challenge of leading a newly established mission congregation, Brookdale Baptist Church of Siler City, giving up the security of an established pastorate, Ruth began work as a representative for Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, selling World Book encyclopedias. Through her diligence and dedication to the notion of helping provide educational materials to families of all income levels, she quickly became a senior area manager for Field Enterprises, a calling she considered a ministry in its own right.
Memorial services for Ruth Simpson will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 28 at the Rocky River Baptist Church of Siler City, where Claude Simpson, Pastor Emeritus, is also buried.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be directed to the University Baptist Church of Chapel Hill. Smith & Buckner Funeral Home of Siler City is assisting the family.