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Leaders honor whirligig maker Vollis Simpson




Wilson leaders honored Vollis Simpson with a proclamation that extends a debt of gratitude and appreciation for the whirligig maker’s contributions to the Wilson community.

Mayor Bruce Rose presented the proclamation to Simpson’s family, including Carol Simpson Kyle and Jean Simpson, during the July 18 council meeting. The proclamation is one of many accolades bestowed on Simpson and his family in recent weeks.

Vollis Simpson’s whirligigs are now the official folk art of North Carolina and Simpson was recently recognized by state leaders with a N.C. House resolution, honoring his life, work and creativity.

Simpson died at the age of 94 in May, just months before the planned opening of the first phase of the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park in Historic Downtown Wilson, where a collection of Simpson’s work will be displayed.

"I know that a lot of us were pulling for Mr. Simpson to be with us when we opened that park officially,” Rose said. "Deep down in my heart, I believe his spirit is going to be in all our hearts when we go down there the first day and break ground for that great park.”

The city proclamation told of Simpson’s background as part of a farming family. Simpson started working at a young age and had a fascination with machines and engineering. He built his first whirligig while serving in World War II. He started building whirligigs after retirement and added the massive structures to a pasture near his workshop in Lucama.

Plans started several years ago to move most of Simpson’s whirligigs into Wilson where they could be restored and added to a park for generations to enjoy for decades.

"This was a man who loved Wilson County,” his daughter, Carol, said. "He loved the city of Wilson. He worked hard, he believed in what he did and he strove each day of his life in post-retirement. He worked just as hard each day up until this past year building what he loved.

"He continued to want to work on his own to create more whirligigs. He was very proud of the efforts being made here to restore his work.”

Jenny Moore, manager of the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park Project, thanked city officials for the recognition and their support, which will add to the city in future years.

"On behalf of the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park Project, thank you to the city of Wilson for this proclamation and to the whole community for its support of the project,” Moore said.

"This is going to do so many wonderful things for Wilson and it’s going to preserve Vollis Simpson’s work for many, many, many years to come, for many generations to come and it’s going to bring a wonderful, prosperous downtown back to Wilson.”

The city recognition proclaimed "a debt of gratitude and appreciation for the life and accomplishments of Vollis Simpson, all he did to bring visitors to the community and to spread the name of Wilson around the world.”

rochelle@wilsontimes.com | 265-7818
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You're the Joke said...

I can only imagine you have been viewing Wilson through Wilson Times just like you view the world the your televison or your radio. I just wonder how many times you actually ride downtown at night or downtown period. Do you even support the local business struggling trying to compete with bigger stores out there. Oh I see...there are some nice place in downtown Wilson but you wouldn't know beyond this online paper. Carry-on!!

Friday, July 26, 2013 at 3:37 PM
What a joke! said...

"This is going to do so many wonderful things for Wilson and it’s going to preserve Vollis Simpson’s work for many, many, many years to come, for many generations to come and it’s going to bring a wonderful, prosperous downtown back to Wilson.”
Really? Moving the windmills (never called "whirligigs" by Vollis himself) downtown is only going to provide target practice for the thugs who inhabit downtown and who are the reason many people will never venture downtown to view these "whirligigs." There is no magic in windmills on a vacant lot in a bad neighborhood.
Preserving the windmills was a great idea; moving them downtown was not. Most of their appeal was the experience of driving down that dark country road and suddenly seeing thousands of bright reflectors illuminated by the headlights of your car. It just won't be the same to drive downtown through run-down, decrepit warehouses where you're afraid to unlock your car doors at night.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:56 PM
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