Granddad would have been 106 today.
As a dental intern at the Marine Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, Maurice Simpson was known as “Dreamboat” for his sparkly blue eyes–but he only had eyes for his beloved Ruby, a widowed young nurse at the hospital who would become his wife of nearly 60 years, preceding him in death by 10 years. He always said that the secret to his long life was “strong booze and wild women.” People that knew him understood the joke. Only on occasion did he drink a gin martini, and in later years a glass of Sutter Home White Zinfandel wine, “the only one that tastes good,” he’d say. And Ruby was a sweet and gentle
woman, not even close to “wild”.
In addition to being a dentist and a decorated retired Navy Admiral, Maury, as he was known to his friends, was a tough but loving father. Age and time softened him into a super fun and loving grandfather. He did magic tricks, making coins disappear, he played a mean game of Acey Deucey, and he liked to fly down the hill from Torrey Pines into Del Mar in his 1971 VW Super Beetle, in neutral. He taught me to drive stick, making sure I knew how to listen to the engine to determine the right time to shift.
He played golf well into his 90s, and in fact made a Hole-In-One when he was 90. Not known for being prideful, he would want me to mention that it was at the at the Lomas Santa Fe Executive Golf Course.
He paid his bills the day they came in the mail, paid cash whenever he could, and the first time he ever took out credit, was a loan to cover the $35 fee to adopt George, Ruby’s son from her first marriage, my father.
Maury was most loved for telling stories– some of which his grandchildren (at least the one writing this) didn’t realize were NOT true until years after first hearing them. Like how they used condoms to waterproof their flashlights on ship during WWII. Granddad had to go to the store and buy a case then return the next day to complain that there was one missing. The store clerk said, “I hope it didn’t ruin your night.”
Granddad wasn’t a picky eater, but when George H. Bush declared that as president he didn’t have to eat his broccoli, Granddad decided he didn’t have to either.
When Granddad was posted to Rota Spain in the 60s he learned to eat calamari, and became somewhat of a connoisseur. For many years his favorite spot was People’s Fish Market on the wharf by Seaport Village in San Diego. There we could toss our leftover french fries in the air for the sea gulls to catch.
It’s been more than ten years since he died, and I still miss him.