Elmer Simpson (1920-1980)



Elmer was born on January 14, 1920 in Salem, Oregon.  He served in the U.S. Army during WW II as a Medical Technician.  After receiving an honorable discharge in 1945, Elmer started his own logging business while at the same time maintaining a farming and cattle operation.  Elmer began his civilian career with the Federal Government in 1953 as a First Aid Attendant for the Maritime Administration in Astoria, OR.  In 1960, following a brief break in service, Elmer came to work for the USFWS as a maintenance man at Desert National Wildlife Refuge.  During his 20 years at Desert, Elmer's ingenuity, versatility and quiet dependability contributed immeasurable to the Service, the Wildlife Range and the resource.  As much at home erecting and operation a sheep trap as he was overhauling or operating heavy equipment, Elmer provided the logistical support necessary for much of the early Desert Bighorn Sheep research conducted by biologists such as Deming, Hansen and Helvie.  Nowhere on Desert National Wildlife refuge is there a wildlife habitat improvement that Elmer didn't have a hand in.   Elmer was the best friend the desert bighorn ever had.  During his tenure at Desert National Wildlife Range, the longest of any Fish and Wildlife Service employee, he was involved in every phase of sheep management from conducting waterhold composition counts to erecting water catchments.  Elmer's diversity and ability to accomplish an almost endless variety of maintenance tasks made the jobs of those managers and biologists, who has the pleasure of working with him, much easier.  To say that "he is is sorely missed and will be for years to come" is a gross understatement.  A deeply religious man, Elmer lived by the old adage, "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all."  His death created a void which cannot be filled and he'll be profoundly missed by all of us who knew or worked with him.


E.M. Kisler, friends, and colleagues in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Cause of Death

On August 26, 1980, Refuge Mangers Yoder, Kisler and Zeller and maintenance man Simpson assisted Frontier Radio Inc. with the installation of a new tower and antenna at Hayford Peak repeater station.  All personnel and materials were airlifted to the peak by a helicopter owner and operated by Silver State Helicopter Company out of Las Vegas.  At approximately 1:00 p.m. the Refuge employees leaded the government equipment on the "chopper" and boarded for the flight back to their trucks at Deadman Train.  On take off the helicopter lost power, dropped, struck the south slope of Hayford Peak, rolled over, and skidded down hill approximately 75 years.  Elmer Simpson was thrown from the aircraft on impact and died from the injuries received despite the efforts of emergency medical technicians from Valley Hospital's "Flight for Life."


Desert National Wildlife Refuge 1980 Annual Narrative Report.