JOHN G. "JACK" SIMPSON / 1924-2008
Leader saw isle growth
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John G. "Jack" Simpson, a leader in Hawaii's tourism industry during its growth in the 1970s and also president of Hawaii's largest restaurant chain, died Sunday. He was 83.
Simpson died from injuries in a fall last month and was among family at his Honolulu home, his daughter Kay Ebert said.
Born to Scottish immigrant parents in Hawaii on June 25, 1924, Simpson often traveled to Scotland. After graduating from Roosevelt High School, he attended the University of Oregon and served later as an Army sergeant in Europe during World War II. He returned to finish school at UO, where he met his wife of 59 years, Ann Bennett Simpson.
Simpson returned to Hawaii in 1950. A trained accountant, he moved into the nonprofit sector in 1972 to serve as president of the Hawaii Visitors Bureau, now the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.
"In those days, everybody in the industry would know who the president (of the Hawaii Visitors Bureau) was," said
Peter Fithian, who served as HVB chairman of the board from 1969 to 1971. "I think that was the time that he had the opportunity to have the most influence on tourism, and I think he did."
He left HVB in 1981 and later became president of Spencecliff Corp., Hawaii's largest locally owned restaurant company, which had dozens of restaurants, bars, bakeries, catering operations and hotels in Tahiti and Maui.
In the 1990s, Simpson became administrator of Central Union Church.
Simpson, a cancer survivor, held several positions at the American Cancer Society and also served in other community organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii.
Survivors include his wife; sons John B. and James A.; daughters Ebert, Gail Owen and Laurie Bugbee; sister Helen Young; 14 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Memorial service will be at Central Union Church tomorrow at 3 p.m. Aloha attire. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the American Cancer Society.