Waxahachie ISD and community leaders had the privilege to honor an educational icon with a special groundbreaking ceremony for the new Max H. Simpson Elementary.

Waxahachie ISD board president Dusty Autrey welcomed the crowd and thanked everyone for their attendance on a chilly Friday morning.

"I know this is a special day for a family that has contributed many, many hours to our district over several decades," Autrey stated.

Simpson's two daughters, Megan Mills and Chrisanna Melick —both Waxahachie High teachers — gathered around the podium with Simpson's grandson, Max Mills.

The younger Max noted he wrote about the desegregation of Waxahachie ISD in his dissertation, which his grandfather was a pivotal player in locally. Max then quoted his grandfather, and as he remarked, "You don't find history, history finds you," Simpson mouthed the words with him.

The microphone transitioned to Melick, who promptly mentioned Simpson's photographic memory for names and events and his belief in education.

"They don't make them like dad, anymore," Melick said. "I love you, dad."

Mills then spoke for the family as a whole when she said, "We are truly honored by this legacy that WISD has gifted our family. You couldn't have chosen a more dedicated, funny, honest, hardworking and giving man than our dad. Generations of children will be part of the legacy of Simpson Elementary, and we are greatly honored by your selection."

Trustee Dr. Joe Langley had the pleasure of serving on the board with Simpson and noted his influence toward the district.

"He has impacted children for 50 years, but because of this building, he will impact them many, many more," Langley said.

Finally, Simpson spoke and initially acknowledged the glue to the family, his wife, Earlane. He also noted one of his seven grandchildren, Sophie, who was present and will graduate from Waxahachie High School this May.

He also recognized recently elected school board members Dusty Autrey and Debbie Timmermann and then acknowledged Langley for his 18-year tenure on the school board. Simpson served three terms on the board and even a few alongside Langley.

"I saw his calmness and intellect," Simpson said. "His ability to let everyone have a say and that was important."

Simpson joined WISD as an assistant superintendent for the district in 1970 and later retired in 1991 as the assistant superintendent of personnel and instruction. Simpson also served on the WISD Board of Trustees from 2004-2011.

During that time, the board birthed Waxahachie Global High, passed two bonds that included the construction of Oliver E. Clift Elementary, Margaret L. Felty Junior High and Howard Junior High.

"The toughest bond issue we had to deal with and face was building the new stadium," Simpson mentioned. "That was close — I think it passed by 82 votes. It was close."

He was also part of hiring two superintendents in James Wilcox and Tom Collins.

After he recognized all the school board trustees and the newly named superintendent, he provided some wisdom.

"What you have to be careful of is that you don't expend all your energy in the building of the school," Simpson said. "This is beautiful; it's going to be wonderful. But it's only going to be mortar and brick. The thing that you have to keep up is the programs you put in that school for kids. That's the most important thing."

Simpson Elementary is located in the North Grove subdivision at 460 Washington Ave. The campus is expected to open in 2020.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450