SOUTH PORTLAND – Warren Simpson, retired owner of the former Shopper’s Hardware store and a longtime member of the South Portland and Cape Elizabeth Rotary Club, died Thursday. He was 94.
Mr. Simpson began working at Shopper’s Hardware in the Mill Creek Shopping Plaza in South Portland in 1955.
He managed the store for 10 years, then bought the business from its owners. The store was originally located at the site of Nonesuch Books and Cards in the shopping plaza.
Mr. Simpson joined the national hardware chain True Value in 1977, and sold the business to his son Thomas Simpson in 1980.
Thomas Simpson said Friday that his father worked at the store until he was 88 years old. He said his father loved talking with customers.
“In the store here, he was always good with the public,” his son said. “He really liked being around the people.”
Tom Blake, an at-large city councilor in South Portland, remembered visiting the store as a child.
“He treated me like a person,” Blake said. “Sometimes adults don’t treat kids like that. He was an icon in this community. He treated everyone the same. He will be missed.”
Mr. Simpson grew up in Sanford and graduated from Sanford High School in 1934.
He married Velma Simpson and raised two children.
His daughter, Lynn Smith of Topsham, remembered her father Friday as a happy and outgoing person who had a positive outlook on life.
His daughter said they played cribbage together nearly every Thursday. “I’ll miss playing with him,” she said.
Mr. Simpson was a charter member of the South Portland and Cape Elizabeth Rotary Club, which began in 1962.
A year later, he was named president of the club and was instrumental in starting the Rotary’s annual Christmas tree sale at Mill Creek. The money generated from sales supports many local charitable causes and humanitarian outreach projects.
Mr. Simpson never missed a meeting in his 46 years with the club. For that, he was honored in 2009 with a bench in Mill Creek that overlooks the hardware store. He was an honorary member of the Rotary at the time of his death.
Dan Mooers, a longtime Rotarian, said Mr. Simpson was the club’s historian. He said for many years Mr. Simpson organized the Rotary’s annual Christmas party for seniors.
“He was so proud of living in South Portland, working in South Portland, and helping people in South Portland,” Mooers said. “He was there. He was involved and was always a calming force.”
Mr. Simpson had a strong commitment to serving the community.
He was active in several other service organizations, including the Stewart P. Morrill Post, American Legion and the Kora Temple Shrine. His son said he was a “born clubber.”
“He liked to join clubs,” his son said. “He enjoyed being part of an organization. He loved being around people.”
Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: