Marcus B. (Mark) Simpson, Jr. passed away November 19, 2023 in Hendersonville, NC.
Mark was born to Marcus B. Simpson, Sr. and Nora Grace Simpson 79 years ago in Sanford, NC and grew up in Statesville, NC. Mark had an endless curiosity about the natural world that was especially inspired by his father and by his favorite teacher, Lois Goforth. His love of nature and especially birds led him to join the Carolina Bird Club as a teenager in the 1960’s long before it was cool to be a young birder. Legendary CBC contributor and author Eloise Potter encouraged his interest and an accidental meeting (staring at a bird and running into the car he was following on a birding trip) with ornithologist and author Roger Tory Peterson sealed the deal.
Mark went on to study biology at Davidson College where he met fellow birders and lifetime friends Doug Pratt, Sterling Southern, and Jim Davidson. He studied biology under renowned professor Thomas (Bugs) Daggy, who further contributed to his interest in the natural world. From there Mark continued on to medical school at UNC-Chapel Hill and completed his internship and residency at Yale and Johns Hopkins Universities. After serving in the US Army at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital he had a highly successful and productive career as a Pathologist, both teaching and directinghospital laboratories at Duke University, George Washington University, the University of Pittsburgh, and finally returning home to North Carolina to retire from his final position at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. He loved writing and was a prolific contributor to medical journals specializing in blood banking and transfusions.
As busy as his career kept him, medicine was never his only interest. He always found time for his love of ornithology and natural history and was a frequent contributor to such publications as “the North Carolina Historical Review”, “the Archives of Natural History”, as well as decades of contributions to the quarterly publication of the Carolina Bird Club, “The Chat.” His specialty in the birds of the Southern Appalachians culminated in his tour de force 1992 publication of Birds of the Blue Ridge Mountains (UNC Press).
Mark was preceded in death by his talented first wife, Sally Simpson, with whom he contributed articles on early whaling off the NC coast, and is survived by his second wife, Marilyn Westphal, who shared his passion for birds and the mountains and with whom he contributed articles on breeding Hermit Thrushes and Northern Saw-whet Owls in the Southern Appalachians.
Mark was a truly remarkable person who will be greatly missed by his friends and relatives, and he was a kind, loving husband and best friend to his heartbroken wife Marilyn.
A memorial service will be held for Mark in spring 2024 in his beloved Blue Ridge Mountains. Exact location will be announced. All are welcome to contribute to the memory of Mark with donations to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation or Conserving Carolina.