Mike Simpson has been honored posthumously as the 2019 Urbana High School Distinguished Alum.
He graduated from Urbana High School in 1959, The Ohio State University in 1963, and Wright State University in 1971. He taught art classes and art history at Urbana High School for 50 years. During that time, he was also an adjunct instructor at Urbana University and at Clark State Community College in Springfield.
He was a member of the Champaign County Arts Council through which he shared his love of art and architecture, often giving tours of the city with an emphasis on the architecture
Simpson’s art reflected his interest in college and professional sports; his paintings were exhibited at the College Football Hall of Fame and in venues throughout the midwest.
In conjunction with his interest in sports, he was the athletic trainer at UHS for 30 years. He began the planting of memorial trees on “the hill” for past athletes and students. That led to the inception of the George Scott Ring of Honor, and he became one of the initial inductees.
He was a lifelong member of the First Presbyterian Church in Urbana and sang in the choir for 58 years.
Local artist Mike Major, who met Simpson in 1974, made the following comment: “We had a lot in common. He was such a wonderful spirit. It was easy to get to know him and work with him, along with his students, and see him try to bring the best out of his students. He was a tremendous influence. I have said there is a ripple effect of his loving touch on hundreds and hundreds of students and others in the community that will go on for decades.”
Sally Johnson, a former member of the Champaign Arts Council board and a member of the Champaign County Historical Society, made the following comment: “Mike was always generous in his praise of anything we did together. He was beyond reproach in anything he ever attempted. He seemed simply to be precise and have very high standards in everything that he did.
Simpson was an asset to Urbana schools, his church and his community, characteristics that led to recognizing him as the 2019 Distinguished Alumni.
Information from Hayla Parker on behalf of Urbana alumni.