Moving force behind Boys and Girls Club to serve as grand marshal

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Nov 30, 2011 - 04:01 PM

Photo: Dr. Harry Simpson

Dr. Harry Simpson

Dr. Harry Simpson has been named grand marshal of the Gloucester Christmas and Holiday Parade. Simpson, an icon of the Boys and Girls Club of the Virginia Peninsula, was instrumental in helping to establish the Gloucester Boys and Girls Club. The building that houses the club in the Hayes Shopping Center was recently named to honor Simpson.

Simpson, a retired dentist who resides at Ware Neck, was a charter member of the first boys club in the area, the Boys Club of Newport News, which was located just a few steps from his childhood home in downtown Newport News.

The son of a single parent, Simpson said he moved with his mother to Washington Avenue in Newport News from West Virginia. "Washington Avenue was my playground," Simpson said. His mom, who worked as a waitress, gave him strict boundaries on how far he could go and play along the street. "I respected my mother," he said, and listened closely to her advice.

After looking through the newspaper one day in 1946, his mother spotted an advertisement for a boys club that was being opened. The first day, Simpson went out looking for the building, but couldn’t find it. So, he and his mother looked again in the paper and they realized it was at the 28th Street Bridge. "So, I joined day two of the Boys Club of Newport News," he added.