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Excerpts by Henry Lane Hull

Four years ago, I wrote an item on Lee Lee Simpson that was inspired by a conversation with her one evening at Lee’s Restaurant, in which she told my Good Wife and me about having hosted a “beach party” in February. At the time, for over 30 years, Lee Lee had conducted “Mrs. Simpson’s Classes,” a course of dancing and manners classes for young ladies and gentlemen in the Washington area.

As the classes did not meet during the summer months, Lee Lee was inspired to teach summer etiquette in the middle of the winter. The evening had been a great experience for her students, replete with their wearing specially designed tee shirts denoting Mrs. Simpson’s Classes.

In the course of the 37 years that she conducted the program, thousands of aspiring young people learned the rudiments of proper behavior, both on the dance floor and in life in general. That group included two of my Good Wife’s nephews, who were fortunate to be among her students. Many years ago, I asked her if she and her husband Edmund gave the dance instructions, to which she replied that she concentrated on teaching the pupils proper manners.

A year after penning that item on her, Lee Lee learned that she was terminally ill, which led her and Edmund to host a large dinner for many of their friends at The Tides Inn. The festivities began with a reception on the waterside under the shade of the Ashburn Cedar, a vestige of the days when Lee Lee’s family had owned the property.

As the evening concluded, she went to each guest at each table and spoke of what that person had meant to her. As we were leaving, she told us of her diagnosis, and said that the treatments she was taking were designed to prolong her life, which they did for the past three years.

For the course of her time on this planet, Lee Lee went far beyond “Mrs. Simpson’s Classes” in teaching by her life experiences and example how to live. She was the ever-gracious hostess, always eager to be kind to everyone she encountered, and serving as a model for living according to the Golden Rule.

As her illness progressed, Lee Lee and Edmund spent most of their time at the Simpson family cottage on Carter Creek in Weems, which had been built by Edmund’s parents in 1952. She always was dressed impeccably, but that was another part of who she was, reflective of her background and upbringing. Ten years ago, when her brother Lemuel died, Lee Lee offered the eulogy at his funeral, which was memorable in that what she said was the embodiment of what it is to live in the Northern Neck

Last summer Lee Lee decided that she wanted to be baptized again, this time by immersion in the water. She spoke of how much the experience had meant to her, and how it had enriched her life as a Christian. One of her goals was to live to be 80, which birthday was forthcoming in November. She did not make that milestone, as she died earlier this month, at her home in Weems, beloved by the entire community that she had loved in turn.

Lee Lee’s life serves as an instruction book on how to live to the fullest, always doing one’s duty, and especially in her case, “putting one’s best foot forward.” She showed people how to live and for the last three years she showed them how to die, at peace with the world and at peace with God.

At her funeral last week, one of the eulogists referred to her as “the Lady from Weems;” and, indeed, that was who she was.

Virginia Lee Ashburn Simpson, November 6, 1944 – March 4, 2024. R.I.P.

Rappahannock Record Staff
Rappahannock Record Staff
From the Rappahannock Record news team

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