Earnest Clyde Simpson was born in Jefferson City, Tennessee, April 28, 1872. He was the son of George and Frances Virginia Simpson and had one brother and five sisters. He attended public schools and was graduated from Carson Newman College in Jefferson City in 1896 with a B. A. degree. He entered the Yale Law School and received the LL. B. degree in 1899. On June 26, 1900, he was admitted to the bar of this state at New Haven. Shortly thereafter, he entered the office of Seymour C. Loomis in New Haven, where he practiced law until 1905, when he formed an association with Charles W. Birely, they later associating with John L. Gilson. On April 3, 1905, he was appointed city attorney in the City Court of New Haven, and held that position until September 9, 1908, the date he was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas for New Haven County, where he served until January 27, 1925, when he was appointed a judge of the Superior Court. This latter position he held continuously until April 28, 1942, when he was retired by reason of constitutional limitation of age and became a state referee, serving as such until his death on May 21, 1946.
Judge Simpson married Mae Etheridge Hodson on August 17, 1912. They had four children, Mrs. Katherine Frances Rekers, Virginia Mae Simpson, George Hodson Simpson and Mrs. Marjorie E. Early; also there were three grandchildren. All of these, including his wife, survive. His daughter Virginia is a practicing attorney in New York City and is a member of the Connecticut bar.
Aside from his activities as a practitioner and upon the bench, Judge Simpson had many interests. He was a trustee of the Connecticut Savings Bank and a member of the executive committee of the Yale Law School Association. He was also a member of the State and New Haven County Bar Associations, an association of lawyers known as "The Benchers," the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the Revolution, the Graduates Club and the New Haven Country Club. He was a thirty-second degree Mason and a past master of Hiram Lodge No. 1, A. F. and A. M. In politics he was a Republican. He was a member of the Methodist Church.
While his entire life was centered primarily in his family and in his chosen profession, he was keenly interested in hunting, fishing, rifle shooting, golf, baseball, football and other outdoor sports. In the course of his military activities he joined the New Haven Grays as a private and, having attained the rank of corporal, was promoted to a battalion adjutant with the rank of first lieutenant. During World War I, he was state inspector of small arms practice with the rank of major on the staff of Colonel Lucien F. Burpee. While in the Connecticut National Guard, he became very proficient in the use of small arms and represented the state upon many of its rifle and pistol teams, contesting in marksmanship in various parts of the United States. During one of these contests at Sea Girt, New Jersey, he attained the distinction of winning the president's match and was awarded therefor the Theodore Roosevelt Medal.
Judge Simpson's career on the bench was remarkable in several respects, not the least of which was the length of its duration - thirty-five consecutive years. More important, however, than the length of his service was the quality thereof. In the course of his judicial experience he was presented with thousands of cases for decision and to each he gave most serious and thoughtful consideration. Many of his decisions involved important and intricate issues and were generally accepted by the bar and litigants without appeal to higher authority. On occasions when his decisions were appealed to the Supreme Court of Errors the percentage of reversals was unusually small and his record in that court was most enviable.
Judge Simpson sat as a member of the Supreme Court on occasion and in some instances wrote the opinion of the court. These opinions exhibit the same carefully meticulous style of his trial court judgments. He was not a judge who received his inspirations from the air but arrived at his decisions from deep thought and laborious research into the legal principles involved. It has been said that he never reached a decision without having read all of the citations offered him and then having entered upon a personal research of the basic principle involved. He had a deep respect for the law and for human rights. He had no patience with sham or frivolity. He was austere on the bench but was most charitable in his views of humanity.
He was indefatigable in his work and never shirked the many laborious hours in his study, when his court was not in session, necessary to bring about a result he thought correct. By dint of hard study and close application, Judge Simpson became one of the pillars of the bench and commanded the respect and confidence of his colleagues as well as of the bar. In short, he was a thoroughly competent judge who understood the duties of his office and fulfilled those duties to the utmost.
During the latter part of his career he was not in good health. Early in 1936 he was affected with a heart ailment which somewhat restricted his activities, but nevertheless he continued to function on the bench until March, 1942, when he experienced a cerebral hemorrhage which practically disabled him during the remainder of his life. Whether he had anticipated the possibility of a sudden end to his career will never be known but he had no unfinished business on his desk when the final hour came.
"Jerry," as he was affectionately known by his intimates, was a kind and loving husband and father, an excellent judge, a good citizen and a loyal friend. His passing ended a life the imprint of which will long remain in the memory of those who knew him. His was a life well spent.