His Life

Tribute by Wally Scott, Friend of the Family

We are here for a solemn reason, but in pursuit of a good purpose.  And I am humbled to pay my respect to one my two children affectionately call “Uncle Oscar” and to convey the condolences of both Gillian and Brian, and of my wife Fay, who could not be present today.

I share the grief of the Simpson family: Winnie, Nigel, Mark, Dawn and Brian and other family members.   Life is bitter-sweet in that the happiest families must endure the saddest goodbyes.

We have all been there and know how you feel

However, in the reality that death is inevitable, it is relationship quality that gives solace to those of us who mourn.  We can, with certainty, take comfort in the resultants of a life so well lived, partnerships so well built and a legacy so well bequeathed.  

Not only was Oscar a good friend, he was an exemplar for maintaining the home, the school and the Church as the family’s and the nation’s foundations. 

In this quest, his partner, Winnifred, is describable as the quiet force beside the steady hand.

A good husband, father and brother, he was also a towering figure at the Bank of Jamaica where he left a lasting legacy as an exemplary Chief Bank Inspector.  I remember doing a brief assignment at the BOJ – how touched I was to hear the esteem in which they held my friend O.B.

Oscar’s life truly illustrated that we must learn if we want to earn and serve others if we would deserve their accolades.

Indeed, he was also a capable farmer.  

And on the lighter side, he was a good domino player and an excellent logician.        I remember, that as his partner, we lost a game, to which he said: “partner, you played wrong”.  Then upon my saying “I did not” he simply asked, “did you win?”   I conceded.

In respect of his persona, he was never defensive because he had so little to fear, never aggressive as he sought no victims, but always assertive, this through the intensity of his purpose and force of his character.

My charge to us all is to strive to emulate our friend by keeping our feet on the ground of protocol, our eyes on the prize in purpose and our minds in the moment through responsive attitudes to the many challenges we face in life.

May the soul of our brother, father, husband and friend, rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon him.


Tribute by Audrey Anderson, Senior Deputy Governor, Bank of Jamaica

It was with a deep sense of sadness and regret that we at the Bank of Jamaica learned of the death of Oscar Benjamin Simpson, 'OB', as we all affectionately called him, who served the Bank with honour and distinction for twenty-seven years. 

Today, we mourn as an institution because we know we are saying goodbye to a colleague and friend. And we mourn with his wife Winnie, children Nigel, Mark, Dawn and Brian, their children and all of OB's extended family, because we know that their loss is personal and profound and we are grateful for their willingness to share it with us. 

On behalf of the Board of Directors, the management, staff, retirees and pensioners of the Bank of Jamaica, and in particular, the staff of the Bank Supervision Division, I extend deepest sympathy to his family on the loss they have suffered — a loss that is shared by the entire Bank of Jamaica family. And, I too have lost a dear friend and mentor. 

OB holds a special place in the history of the Bank as he was one of the first employees, having joined the staff on March 1st 1961. When he applied for a position at the Bank, OB, with his usual candour admitted that his "banking experience was limited as I have never been employed in any bank before." But, having been invited to an interview, he obviously acquitted himself very well as it was noted in the records that, 'Simpson was quite a promising applicant and should be considered for employment'. One of his referees said of OB: "[I] can, without reserve, testify that he bears an excellent and irreproachable character." But it is the words of the then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, where OB worked before coming to the Bank, which best exemplified OB's performance and character: "I have found him diligent, conscientious and pleasing in manner. I have formed the opinion that he is a man of honesty and integrity". 

Having joined the Bank as a First Class Clerk in 1961, OB worked in several areas of the Bank, including Currency, Banking and Exchange Control and, moving up the ranks, was appointed Assistant Head of Department in 1968. 1973 was to be a turning point in OB's career at the Bank as, in that year, Bank of Jamaica assumed responsibility for bank supervision, which duties had been previously undertaken by the Ministry of Finance. When the then Governor, the late Hon. G. Arthur Brown was appointed Inspector of Banks, in February 1973, 0. B. Simpson was one of the members of staff he selected to assist him in carrying out these duties and he was appointed the Assistant Director of the newly-established Bank Inspection Department. In June 1974, he acted as head of the department; was appointed Deputy Inspector of Banks in September 1974 and in January 1975, Head of the Bank Inspection Department. OB served in that capacity until he retired from the Bank in 1987. 

During his time in Bank Supervision he laid the foundation for the development of bank regulation at the Central Bank, a foundation on which we continue to build today. He was one of the early trailblazers at a time when the whole idea of bank regulation was not understood and consequently came in for some resistance. His work therefore brought prominence to the critical importance of bank supervision to the health of any economy. 

OB's influence was not confined to the local arena, but extended into the wider Caribbean as he was to become one of the "founding members" of the Caribbean Group of Banking Supervisors, which was the second such regional grouping to be established worldwide. To provide some perspective, today there are some 15 such regional groupings. On a regional level, OB also broke ground in helping to bring into being a formalized Caribbean Bank Supervision Training Programme, geared to providing expert training for bank examiners and supervisors from all the Caribbean Central Banks charged with responsibility for regulation of their banking sectors, to ensure that there was a harmonized approach across the region. In this regard he coordinated and delivered presentations at bank supervision training programmes and served as an expert speaker at several technical supervision conferences. It is this regional work combined with his excellent track record at the Bank of Jamaica, that no doubt led, on his retirement, to his services being contracted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a consultant to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, to provide technical assistance in strengthening bank supervision practices and capacities in that jurisdiction. In fact among his peers he was regarded as the "Dean" of supervision - I suppose today we would have called him the "Don"!!! As clear evidence of the high regard in which he was held, there has been an outpouring of warm remembrances and sentiments from his former supervisory colleagues within the region who learnt of his passing, some of whom have attested to the significant influence that he had on their choice of career and growth in bank supervision. 

For my own part I really came to know OB when I was transferred from Exchange Control to the still fairly new operational area of Bank Inspection in early 1979. This move turned out for me to be a major and pivotal career changer. I went to this new department with some amount of trepidation, but quickly realized that in OB I had again been lucky in gaining a boss who not only respected his staff but would go out to bat for them when necessary. OB became my mentor in bank supervision policy and practices - someone we could all depend on to guide us in this new and at first, often bewildering landscape of bank regulation. OB was also instrumental in pressing me to my fullest potential as a career Bank Supervisor, as had it not been for his almost bullying me into applying for the position of Departmental Head at the point of his retirement, my career path might have been quite different. I recall that even when he officially retired from the BOJ, the Bank retained his services on contract for a further year. As the then brand new Director of the Department his continuing presence during this transition period certainly gave me a significant level of comfort, knowing he was still available to bounce ideas off and provide always wise counsel. I will forever be grateful for his sincere encouragement and steadfast confidence in me which so strongly supported my own growth and development as an individual and team leader. 

But, for OB, it wasn't a case of all work and no play - his ethos was one of teamwork and family and under OB we were all one big work family. OB had an infectious optimism about life and enjoyed it to the full. He possessed a keen sense of humour, enjoyed a good joke and had a very hearty and distinctive laugh; and he was a great admirer of the female form. Never one to take himself too seriously, he had the ability to laugh at himself and enjoyed regaling us with stories of 'when he lived in England' during the 1950s. Always polite and genteel, with an almost old world courtliness, OB would never willingly cause hurt to others. He was always looking for the good in each person and, with his endearing personality, he had the remarkable ability to make all human encounters, however fleeting, feel both special and personal. He was slow to anger but when you saw him lift his chin and draw himself up to his full 5 foot plus frame, you knew he wasn't at all pleased. Never one to back down from a challenge, he would let you know very clearly that he had no intention of losing, as his stock response was always — "If I allowed you to beat me or best me, I would never be able to go home to Miss Winnie!" 

OB loved sports, particularly football and cricket. He used to tell us stories of his vaunted exploits on the cricket pitch and football field in the very early days on behalf of the Bank of Jamaica. I must, however, confess that, as I wasn't there, I cannot verify those reports and would have to leave it up to persons like Walter Campbell and Alfred Grant to corroborate his tales. And to hear him tell it, he was a 'mean' domino player in the Hope Pastures domino fraternity, and his weekend domino games became the stuff of legend. And who could forget OB on the dance floor at our Christmas parties and regular Bank Inspection shindigs. The many photographs of him and his dancing partners will attest to his great enthusiasm in that arena. OB loved to entertain and this continued when his home base moved to Mammee Bay, where it was always his joy to welcome us when we were in his neck of the woods. 

And last, but by no means least, OB loved his family. His life was not only rich in public achievement, but also in private happiness. In fact, I make bold to say that his achievements at the Bank were rooted in his private happiness. I am sure that if he could, he would agree with me that the greatest turning point in his life was when he met and married his beloved Winnie. Those of us who knew and worked with him knew of his love for and devotion to Winnie - the testimony of a loving and grateful husband. His love for his children, and later, his grandchildren, was deep and unqualified. He revelled in their accomplishments, he hurt with their sorrows and he felt sheer joy and delight in the time he spent with them. At the mere mention of their names his eyes would light up and his smile grow wider. We share their grief today, but we also share, I am sure, their pride. 

During the final years of his life, OB's mind was clouded by illness. We knew he was getting tired and we knew it might happen but we did not want to see him go. But we also know that that cloud has now lifted and he is himself again, perhaps even more-so than at any time he was on this earth. And as the last journey of this faithful pilgrim took him beyond the sunset, and as heavens morning broke, I would like to think that, as John Bunyan wrote, "... he passed over and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side." 

OB's heart belonged to the Bank which he served with style and unswerving dignity and commitment, and he will always be remembered with love and affection by the Bank of Jamaica family. His passing may have left a vacuum in many lives but we are all richer for having known this true gentleman and having experienced the joy of his presence and the principles he represented — a determination to succeed, humility, an innate sense of fair play, a tremendous sense of service, his humanity and compassion for others. 

He was indeed a true friend and a wonderful human being! 

We, who are still here however, are fortunate in that we have one beacon to guide us that OB never had. We have his example. His values were strong. They are timeless, and they will endure. 

May his memory lighten our grief and may his soul rest in peace.



Tribute by Douglas Simpson (nephew)

I offer this tribute to my late uncle Oscar B. Simpson, on behalf of my siblings: Jeannie, Patsy and Junior. Junior unfortunately faces severe health challenges himself at this time and sends his sincere condolences to aunt Winnie, Nigel, Mark, Dawn and Brian.

Uncle Fel, as we all affectionately referred to him, was for all intents and purposes the only REAL uncle we ever had. As the youngest of the children of his brother Roman, I have very fond memories of Uncle Fel being FUN whenever he came visiting our home which was some distance from where he lived. He was enthusiastic in his greeting as he came through the door of our house with his broad smile greeting all who were there. His laughter was so infectious with that unmistakable chuckle with its escalating frequency and decibels. He was FUN because he used to take my dad and me for rides to faraway places and for a young lad in the 60s that was fun. Corn Pork, I first tasted on a trip with Uncle Fel and my dad. The first time I saw the sea Uncle Fel was driving on the Rockfort Rd with my dad and I. Whenever I saw Uncle Fel I got excited because something FUN was going to happen Uncle Fel was FUN to be with. 

He was however a stickler for discipline and proper dining table etiquette. This did made us a little nervous at times when dining with Uncle Fel; proper use of knives and forks, elbows always where they aught to be, quiet mastication of the food, leaving the knife and fork together on the platter after the meal and ensuring than any departure from the table is with all protocols observed and with good reason! Poor Marky, recall at Harbour View left the table without having any good reason whilst the rest of the diners were reclining at the table and wow there were fireworks from Uncle Fel! Let's just say it was painfully indicated to Mark that protocol was breached. Nobody needed to teach us about social graces Uncle Fel was our teacher and mentor. 

We pay tribute to Uncle Fel as the most successful of Stephen Samuel and Hephsiba's children. A man who made the best of the opportunities that God gave him to achieve financial success and career achievements that continue to inspire the rest of us. 

We big up Uncle Fel because he did not use his success only for himself and his immediate family. The extended family was important to him. That's why the first time my family went to Cornwall Beach in Montego Bay Uncle Fel was the instigator. The first time our family went to Dunn River Falls Uncle Fel was the instigator. Parties were at his home for family and his friends. Dominoes were at his home for family and friends. He was in Olympic gardens visiting "Brother man" my dad and the rest of us because Uncle Fel was the Catalyst for keeping the family united and functional. When I attended University Uncle Fel and Aunt Winnie offered boarding to me. My sister Patsy was always at his home when she was in Nursing School because Uncle Fel made his family feel like .....FAMILY. 

We hail Uncle Fel today because he was a devoted brother to our late dad "Brother man" Daddy was not an easy person to relate to and understand! Uncle Fel and daddy had many heated exchanges as I recall but I have never detected anything but love and devotion from Uncle Fel for daddy. Sometimes when they played as domino partners, woa everybody gets nervous. Somebody is going to forget the game, make a wrong play and the argument would start but daddy remained always brother man. 

Speaking of dominoes, I think we all knew that Uncle Fel was not a Nigel or Mass Hugh or Junior or Mark but he was enthusiastic. So enthusiastic he could probably sell Roast Beef to Hindus. I will never forget one night in Hope Pastures we had a late night of dominoes and well the men got puckish. Uncle Fe! rushes from the table and goes to rustle up something in the kitchen and returns gleefully with some food for the men : Cucumber Sandwich with black pepper. Wally Scott must have been real hungry he tries the sandwich, Uncle with that boyish enthusiasm looks straight into Walls eyes and says' So how is it Wally " Wally is in trouble now as he is still adjusting to the meal concept much less the taste, with Uncle Fel's expectant enthusiasm facing him, Wally "HMM DIFFERENT! 

What a man: Fun loving, Disciplined, An achiever of whom we are proud as Simpsons, the family man extraordinaire, The family hub, Devoted to his dear brother Roman, the enthusiastic life and host of the party. We love you Uncle Fel. Big up yuself! May you dwell in the House of the Lord forever


Three Family Tributes and One Professional Tribute

Remembrance by Brian K Simpson (son)

My father Oscar Benjamin Simpson was known to many by several names

    Uncle Fell
    Uncle Oscar

He was born 84 years ago, on August 20, 1926 in Bensonton  St Ann. He was the youngest of 12.  Much of his early years were spent in Kingston where he attended Kingston Technical High school from which he matriculated.  He was under the guardianship of his older brother, Roman. In the latter years of his life I really came to understand the deep bond that they shared.

Nigel tells of the time when he paid a surprise visit to Mummy and Daddy in 2008.  Daddy was telling him about the treatment that Uncle Roman as we knew his brother,  had received in Jamaica when he tried to get a job in his field after returning from England  The anguish of the very bad treatment was evident in that he became very emotional and cried..

In fact in following His brother’s footsteps Daddy had joined up with the Royal Air Force in 1944. The joke is often told that he was just shy of the minimum age requirement to join up but using his wiles he was able to mask his age  by - among other things- obtaining and wearing a long pants in exchange for the standard short pants of  pre-age-of-majority young men. And so  it was that Dad went on to spend  a total of 14 years  in the RAF stationed at various bases throughout England. He attained to the rank of Sergeant and was employed as a pay accountant. I should mention that this was not a  straight course of 14 years but  was broken up into two tours of duty. -‘44 to ‘48 and ‘50 to ‘60. Between 1948 and 1950 Dad was back in Ja and it was during this time that he met my mother  and his life partner of 58 years, Winifred.  During this time he successfully acquired  certification and membership from the internationally recognized Chartered Institute of Secretaries.

While in England he made lifelong friends many of whom were not of his race.  He never got caught up in issues of race but believed in in education and hard work that would make us proud of ourselves.  He did not want to be defined by colour. At the end of the RAF experience, Dad returned to Jamaica with his family consisting then of mum and three young ones, Nigel Mark and Dawn. The year was 1960  and this marked the end of one great era of OB’s life and the beginning of another.

In Jamaica he ensured that we knew our roots.  He took us to Nathan St the heart of Mummy’s family as well as Bensonton, Drumily and Harmony Vale the heart of the Simpson clan.  He showed us the important things in life like family, education  and Dominoes.  He took us to the beach very often. We became familiar with Gun Boat beach, Mineral Bath,  BOJ's beachfront home in St Thomas and their Turtle Towers apartment among other places. On occasions he took us to Hope Gardens, Castleton Gardens and other areas where we could walk and talk as a family.

At home he had his ’ways’.  Every now and then he used to buy hot bread and would also make these special concoctions such as crackers and red herring.  Many of us will not forget the omelets that he made as a result of the cracked eggs that he could not sell when he was involved in farming.  He picked up a love of English dishes such as Kippers.  Many of his grandchildren remember that he loved to share peanuts in shells or cheese and crackers with them while watching sports events like boxing after dinner whenever they spent holidays with him.  As he grew older he loved sitting on his porch holding court to all who passed through. Through his life he was  very opinionated a trait that he seems to have passed down to all his descendants

Between 1961and 1987 Dad was a big part of the Bank of Jamaica family. I was born and raised during this era of time. Dad was a more seasoned parent during this period according to my siblings. To be clear he was consistently strict with all of us but by the time I came along he was not as rigid and unbending in his authority.  He had mellowed  somewhat. For example, I think that it was easier for me to go to parties than it was for them.

The OB I know was an ambitious man. He wanted the very best for his family and worked hard to leave a legacy, a foundation upon which we could build. Not content with just a banking career dad was involved in farming  and was always on the hunt for a sweet real estate deal.  Nor was this in vain for his efforts did yield success and prosperity.  He always looked for better ways of doing things hence a decision to buy a car in the Sates and ship it to Jamaica.  This prompted his beloved older brother to do the same thing

Still,  his concern extended beyond himself and his family - he  had a side that was very patriotic. Indeed, OB discharged his duties as a Bank  Executive with the poise and conviction of a patriotic public servant. It  was this sense of national pride that compelled him to come home to Jamaica despite being on a successful track in England. And It was the patriot in him that compelled Dad to teach evening Accounting classes  at St Andrew Technical High School for years despite the meager compensation. He had explicitly stated that it was his patriotic duty.

Some of my fondest memories during this period  consist of seeing him interact in social settings; whether he was playing dominoes on a Friday evening at Hope Pastures or attending New years’ eve parties hosted by the Hall’s It was where I saw Dad shed his seriousness, let his hair down and have pure fun. It was where I saw my father dance and bwoy he was smooth. Not one awkward bone in his body! He was a great dancer as well as a great singer

By the time of his retirement from BOJ  in 1987, Dad was widely recognized for his acumen in Central banking specifically in the area of Bank Inspection. On the strength of this solid reputation  he was offered a position with the International Monetary Fund . His assignment with the IMF had him, my mother and I stationed in St. Kitts-Nevis but his responsibilities  -his jurisdiction- extended to the entire English-speaking Eastern Caribbean.  On completion of this assignment, he was offered opportunity for reassignment, continued travel and generous compensation but Dad had other plans: It was time for him and mum to come home and enjoy his beloved St Ann in the comfort of their newly built retirement home. And this is just what they did. He savored life in the parish of his birth and took great pride in his villa home.

Oscar Simpson from humble beginnings rose up  through hard work and dedication to achieve success and through it all he maintained an unwavering commitment to his wife and family.  To be  in his presence was to be in the presence of a dignified gentleman: charismatic, warm and full of manners. Yes he had a sharp sting should you happen to be on the wrong side of an argument but he was after all, a man amongst men and therefore no stranger to staking out a position and defending it.

I, for one, will surely miss him and I know he will be missed by all those who knew him.