Remembering a friend

January 30 - February 5, 2023

By Jay Edwards, Dan Snider, Don Bacon and Bob Denman


My first memory of Jim Simpson is from 1989 at what was then North Hills Country Club in Sherwood. I had been invited to play in a fall tournament called the Julian Cup. Like the Ryder Cup, the event was made up of two teams. And that’s about where the similarities end. One of the teams was led by the founder of the event, Jim Julian, and the other by his rival captain, Mark Nichols. There were six other original members who had played in the first two Cup’s before this expansion I was a part of. Julian had on his team, Randy Morley, Larry Chisenhall and Jim Daugherty. With Nichols were Mark Davis, Chuck Nestrud and Lester McKinley.


Some of you who know these fine fellows will notice they all have something in common, and no, it’s not a single-digit handicap, but rather that they all are lawyers. 


Before I was invited, I had been keeping up with the details of the planned expansion through my buddy Randy, and when I heard the first two spots had gone to some fellas named Sam Ledbetter and Jim Simpson — two more lawyers — my spirits sank. It certainly looked as if the young tournament would be open only to those in the legal profession. There were two spots left and when I heard the 11th opening had gone to someone named Chock Walden, I began making some calls to see if he was a lawyer too. No one thought so, but they did say he seemed to know a lot about the law.


Then Randy called and told me I got the 12th spot, and so began an annual fall ritual I came to dearly love, and dread, at the same time. There is just something about playing in a tournament on a team that increases the level of pressure tenfold.


I arrived at the course that first day and was introduced to Simpson. Through the years I’m happy to say we became friends. He was, like all those guys, somebody who loved to play golf and hated to lose. His preparation always seemed better than most, or at least mine anyway. He even had handwarmers one day for a match when the weather went bad on us. Even though he was on the other team he shared one with me and it had gotten so cold by then that I loved him for it.  


Jim had many dear friends much closer to him than me. Here are memories from three of them.


Dan Snider


I have many wonderful memories of Jimmy. I will share one that we all had a good laugh about. 


As everyone knows Jim was very organized and detailed. We had scheduled a golf trip to Dallas for two days of golf and camaraderie. We all met at Little Rock airport with reservations for golf, a hotel and dinner. 


We were excited and anxious to go. 


Upon arrival in the Dallas airport, we headed to baggage claim to pick up our bags and clubs. Everything arrived except for Jimmy’s clubs. After several minutes he finally turned to the group and said, “Guys my clubs are in the trunk of my car in the parking lot at the airport. The lid to the trunk is still open.”


He played pretty well with rental clubs. 


He was a great friend, and I will truly miss him.


Don Bacon


Jim embraced the use of a “man bag” long before it was recognized as an acceptable accessory for the busy male. His large, rolling briefcase was overstuffed with not only legal files but also personal items of various kinds. His real “man bag” was whatever black Lexus he was driving at the time. It was filled with various items of clothing: business, casual and athletic. Although he went home every evening, it would not have been necessary for him to stop by his closet or dresser. 


He had numerous changes of clothes in his “man bags on wheels.” It also contained personal grooming items so it was not unusual, if you were traveling east on Cantrell in the mornings to see Jim shaving, brushing his teeth, combing his hair or tying his tie. A reliable source also reports that on one trip on the interstate, he requested a pair of pants from the back seat so he could change clothes while driving. His passenger declined. 


It is unclear whether these various activities had a direct correlation to the number of times his “man bag” had to be taken to the body shop.


Bob Denman


The Friday firm’s website described Jim as a “clever” and tough attorney. His teammates on the Cloverdale Junior High football team might have been the first to witness just how clever he was. Jim was a cornerback weighing in at 130 pounds packed onto a 5-foot 6-inch frame. We were playing rival Ridge Road Junior High who had a running back that looked to me like he was 6 foot 4 inches tall weighing at least 225. Jim couldn’t bring the guy down on his own but knew what to do when he had to make the defensive play. Jim would simply jump on the guy’s back, ride him like a pony, slowing him enough for his teammates to come make the tackle! We all knew then how clever and crafty he was, long before he dreamed of an accomplished legal career.  


James Marlon (Jim) Simpson  


June 9, 1952 – January 19, 2023