For more than 20 years, Doris “Ra Ra” Simpson was a fixture on the NMSU campus. She worked as an administrative assistant for various departments including ag, chemical engineering, social work, anthropology and technological innovations from the late 1960s until her retirement in 1990. Simpson was known for looking out for students, and she even played matchmaker.
Mark Mexal ’75 met Simpson in 1972 when he was a work-study student in chemical engineering. Two years later she introduced him to her daughter Sandra ’77. Her daughter Laurie later met electrical engineering student Kevin Tittle ’79. Both couples would marry.
Originally from Philadelphia, Simpson and her husband Frank Brown Simpson moved to New Mexico in 1946 and lived in Hatch and Rincon until they moved to Las Cruces in 1957. The couple had four children.
“Although life wasn’t always easy, she raised four great kids and loved New Mexico and New Mexico State University,” Mexal says.
Simpson died in fall 2006 following a seven-year battle with cancer.
“After Frank Sr. passed away in 1973, times were tough, but Doris always found a way to make ends meet and help others through hard work and dedication. It is in that spirit that the Doris ‘Ra Ra’ Simpson Memorial Endowed Scholarship was funded in 2007 by family and friends,” Mexal says.
The scholarship is awarded to a full-time engineering student who is a New Mexico high school graduate with at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA as a sophomore, junior or senior.
“She left such an impact on all of her family members that it just felt right to keep her memory alive,” says granddaughter Stephanie Simpson ’02.
Twelve of Simpson’s immediate family members have graduated from NMSU including son Frank Simpson ’71 and his wife Kay
Simpson ’88 along with grandchildren Christopher Long ’94, ’96 and his wife Linda Long ’96; Shane Long ’96; Molly Huey ’98 and her husband Heath Huey ’95. Even more extended family members have earned their diplomas and the next generation – Doris Simpson’s great-grandchildren – are currently on campus pursuing degrees.
“My grandmother had her quirks but she was such a loving and generous person that everyone she knew just loved her to pieces. We are still a very close extended family and we have her to thank for that,” says granddaughter Wendy Simpson ’96, ’99, ’07.