Outdoors

Bob Simpson, Big Rock founder, former N&O outdoors correspondent, has died

Bob Simpson aboard his cherished Sylvia II, a Core Sound fishing boat he salvaged after it sunk. Simpson influenced many things in the outdoors of North Carolina. He left his mark on the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, the North Carolina Maritime Museum and the Captain's Memorial on the Morehead City waterfront.
Bob Simpson aboard his cherished Sylvia II, a Core Sound fishing boat he salvaged after it sunk. Simpson influenced many things in the outdoors of North Carolina. He left his mark on the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, the North Carolina Maritime Museum and the Captain's Memorial on the Morehead City waterfront. STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Bob Simpson, a longtime advocate for the outdoors, the founder of the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament and a newspaper columnist, has passed away, according to a Big Rock release. He was 92.

Simpson was a resident of Morehead City's Peltier Creek and along with three other friends in the "Fabulous Fishing Club" created the popular blue marlin tournament.

"Bob Simpson was a visionary and worked tirelessly to create what is now the 'Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament," Big Rock director Crystal Hesmer said in a statement. "He was told it was impossible and eventually persevered. We were so excited to have him as part of our 60th anniversary celebration and it will not be the same without him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.”

Simpson and his friends created the tournament in 1957 and landed the first blue marlin in the fall of that year.

Another of Simpson's passions was writing. He was a correspondent for The News & Observer and contributed a column from the 1950s until 2012. He also wrote a nature editorial on Sundays.

"While it's been more fun for me than I can describe, it's time to hang it up," Simpson wrote in his farewell column.

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Simpson's companion for many of his adventures, his wife Mary, passed away in 2005.

Simpson's other love was his Core Sounder boat Sylvia II. It was more than 40 years old when he bought it for $300 in 1976. It had been wrecked due to bad weather in Bogue Sound. Simpson refurbished it and would show it on special occasions, including singing Christmas carols to folks who lived along the sound. He sold the 36-foot boat in 2014.

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He was instrumental in the creation of the Cape Lookout National Seashore and the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort.

Simpson received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian honor in 2016.

Simpson was born on Sept. 18, 1925 in Havana, N.D. During the summer he often would return to North Dakota or Montana on visits.

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