“No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the weight on the shoulders of another.”
Although the author of that quote is unknown, one person who this quote applies to is not and that is Keith Simpson.
During Keith’s lifetime he loved nothing more than being involved and contributing to his community. That is why his community decided to erect a Community Builders Award Wall in his honour. This wall, which is an important part of the new Town Clock Plaza in Navan, lies directly across the street from Keith & Helena Simpson’s home and business and will be a place where not only Keith will be remembered, but also hundreds of people who, like Keith, worked and continue to work tirelessly on behalf of their community.
It is hard to think of a part of our village life that Keith did not have an impact on, whether it be agriculture, recreation, community building, firefighting, church activities, politics or even helping out during the famous Ice Storm of 1988. That spirit of volunteerism also applied to his work, as he donated many hours to the Ontario Electrical League and his community as President of Simpson’s Electric.
Keith loved to have fun, but realized that in order to do so, he had to become a part of planning that fun. That is why you would see him at community fund raising events, helping to plan, set up and organize community dances, barbecues, car washes and innumerable outdoor events. His love for his community extended into the Navan Fair. It is hard to imagine a Navan Fair without him – you would always see his trucks busy installing power for the exhibits, concessions and entertainment – and ending his day with a cool one surrounded by friends and family. Keith volunteered his way through the Executive and served as Vice President, President and Past President during the years 1979-1984.
He continued to be an active volunteer, helping to prepare the grounds, set up the events and participating in any of the activities of the Cumberland Township Agricultural Society where his assistance was needed (and greatly appreciated).
His love of agriculture and community spilled over into the International Plowing Match where, for the first time, Navan was the host of the prestigious event. Keith was a committee co-chair and he was on the grounds every moment he could find to help out when weather and international events negatively impacted on this great event. Regardless of the outcome, Keith and hundreds of other volunteers were proud of their event and their community.
He also loved all of the community activities which make Navan such a great place to live. Whether watching or coaching minor fastball or working tirelessly to rebuild the Navan Arena in 1984, Keith was a significant part of the village and one missed by many.
But there was a serious side to Keith – one which he realized at an early age as he became part of the Navan Volunteer Firefighters. These brave men and women continue to dedicate their lives to making our community a safer place, all the while putting their own lives in danger. For over 25 years, Keith was an active volunteer, finishing his second career as a Volunteer Captain, training many of the youth who are now part of the Ottawa Fire Fighter community.
In November 1997 he was presented with “The Fire Services Long Services Medal” by the Fire Marshall of Ontario, an award of which he was very proud.
The community continues to benefit from his contributions as the volunteer component of the new City of Ottawa Firefighting team is alive and well in Navan. It would not be so without the influence of Keith.
Keith was also very active in the Ontario Electrical League. At our local chapter in Winchester he was a tireless volunteer and filled his term as President from 1976-1979. During this time, he volunteered for all their activities, whether it be golf tournaments, conventions or special events. He also served on the Provincial Advisory Committee and Contractors Committee in Toronto. In 1988 he was presented with the Malcolm Brandt award for “Outstanding contribution to the members of the OEL”.
All of these activities led him to realize the importance of politicians and politics in the functioning of our everyday lives. He also knew that he needed to be an active volunteer to elect people who he felt would better his community. Hardly an election would go by, whether municipal, provincial or federal, where you would not see Keith installing signs, attending all candidates meetings and assisting on campaigns.
His church was important to him as well and he was a member of the Cemetery Committee for the Vars United Cemetery.
During the Ice Storm in 1998, that notion of commitment and dedication to a great cause saw him spend innumerable hours and working relentlessly going around the community with his own generator helping residents and making sure farmers were able to milk their cows.
It is appropriate, indeed, that Keith’s family can look out with pride on the Town Clock Plaza and Community Builders Wall which is dedicated to the memory of a tireless community builder, Keith Simpson. All of us thank you, Keith, for always making our shoulders lighter.