Although they may not have been in his classroom for many years, former students still addressed him as "Mr. Simpson."
That was the kind of respect students had for Ray Simpson, a former math teacher and coach at Leavenworth High School.
Friends, family and former students are remembering the passing of Simpson, who died last Saturday, six days after celebrating his 70th birthday.
A visitation is slated from 6-8 p.m. Sunday at Davis Funeral Home, Sixth Street and Shawnee Street.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Independent Baptist Church, 601 Pottawatomie St. Rev. Robert Baynham will officiate the service. Burial will follow at Mount Muncie Cemetery.
"I remember him as being awesome," said Lorraine Ross, Simpson's sister. "He was an awesome teacher, an awesome man. Everybody loved him."
Simpson was a 1964 graduate of Leavenworth High School, where he was an all-around athlete, competing in football, basketball, baseball and track.
He played college basketball and football at the College of Emporia, now Emporia State University. He was a four-year starter in basketball and played football for three seasons.
Simpson earned his master's degree at Emporia and began his teaching and coaching career at Leavenworth High School in 1972.
Ross said Simpson was the first black high school coach in Leavenworth High School history.
Simpson, who once was named the LHS teacher of the year, retired from full-time teaching in 2004, although he worked as a part-time substitute teacher for many years thereafter.
Leavenworth City Commissioner Mark Priesinger said Simpson had the full respect of teachers and students.
He said his children were students in Simpson's math class.
"They had great respect for him," Priesinger said.
Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens said he met Simpson as a seventh-grade student at the former East Middle School.
Kitchens said he tried out for Simpson's basketball team and was cut.
"I asked him why he cut me," Kitchens said. "And he said, 'because you're short and terrible.'"
Kitchens said talking in Simpson's math class was strictly forbidden.
"If you talked, you got chalk thrown at you," Kitchens said. "It was certainly a different time then."
Like many others, Kitchens said he is very sad to learn of Simpson's death.
"We loved him dearly," Kitchens said.
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