James Scott Simpson of Bozeman passed away Feb. 29, 2012, but not until he'd completed nine holes of golf in the desert near his winter home in Wickenburg, Ariz.
He was born March 27, 1933 in Prescott, Ariz., to Kenneth and Helen Simpson. The family soon moved to San Diego, Calif., where he attended Sweetwater High School in National City. At the age of 13 he learned to fly, sometimes washing airplanes in exchange for flying lessons. In later years he became a Certified Flight Instructor.
He served as a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army National Guard, receiving various awards for marksmanship. He also worked in the aerospace industry at General Dynamics Aeronautics. Around this time he met and married Evelyn Moore, with whom he started a family and reared five children.
He acquired his first horse at the age of 18, which established the direction the rest of his life was to take. He became skilled first as a cowboy and rodeo rider, then as a horseshoer, graduating with his best friend Mike Williams from the California Polytechnic horseshoeing school in 1959. After 17 years as a professional farrier, he founded the Horseshoeing School at Montana State University in 1970. He later became the instructor of farrier science at Walla Walla Community College in Washington, and at his own Northwestern School of Horseshoeing. During this time he remained active as a horseshoer and horseman, working in virtually every activity and discipline in the horse industry, including Thoroughbred racing, harness racing, hunter jumpers, dressage horses, working cow and ranch horses, pro rodeo, and as a horse show judge. He served as president of the American Farrier's Association, and received the AFA's Outstanding Educator, Outstanding Clinician and Outstanding Journalism awards. In 1999 he was inducted into the International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. His teaching and expertise took him to places such as Australia, Hawaii, Japan, Russia, Alaska and Canada, as well as much of the continental U.S.
He was the author of numerous books on horseshoeing, the culmination of which is his magnum opus, The Contemporary Horseshoer: Shoeing Horses in the Twenty-First Century. He also wrote numerous articles in journals and magazines ranging from Western Horseman to Plane & Pilot. He also helped to establish certification for professional farriers, developed the "Eagle Eye" principal of shaping a horseshoe to an individual horse's foot, and invented numerous implements for farriers, horsemen, and aviators.
Scott was a man of wildly diverse interests, whose passions included tennis, golf, cross-country skiing, fly fishing, big game hunting, and music, he being a gifted singer. With the Last Chance Ranch Hands he recorded Cowboy Up, a collection of traditional cowboy songs that has enjoyed much popularity.
Scott was a passionate and devout Christian, being a member of Valley of Flowers Catholic Church in Belgrade. He refused to answer the phone while having his afternoon devotions, or while watching Jeopardy! His teaching, mentoring, generosity, humor, commitment to excellence and love, touched many hundreds of lives over the years.
He is preceded in death by his father, Kenneth Simpson; his mother, Helen; his brother, Michael, Evelyn, and great-grandson Elijah. He is survived by his five children, Mary (George) Smith, Blake (Carmen) Simpson, Ben (Corrine) Simpson, Frank (Tamilla) Simpson and daughter Howie Simpson. Scott had seven grandchildren, Megan Smith-Jones, Christina Smith, Jeffrey Simpson, Michelle Simpson, Rachel Simpson, Mercy Anna Simpson, John Scott Simpson, and great-grandsons, Brendan and Joseph Jones.
A memorial service is planned for the end of May. You may leave condolences at www.wickenburgfuneralhome.com.