Ezra Leroy (Roy) Simpkins was born July 23, 1912, in Fayette County near Vandalia.   He was called Roy all of his life.

Dad Simpkins was the youngest of 5 boys.    His mother, Mary, died when Dad was only 2 years old … and Grandpa George Simpkins never remarried.   He raised 5 boys by himself on the farm.   Per Uncle Charlie to Bud, Dad’s mother died of milk weed poisoning after drinking milk from the infected cows.)

Dad never talked much about those days of growing up on the farm, but I’m sure they were difficult without a mother.  It was mentioned that they did attend the Church of the Brethren(?) during those years.   Evidently Grandpa George Simpkins and the church they attended did a great job of instilling Christian principles and character qualities into the boys.   Out of 5 boys, 3 were preachers:  Roy (United Pentecostal Church International), Charlie  (United Methodist Church) and John (Baptist).   Harry and Jim were not preachers, but attended church all of their lives.

When he was 22, Dad married his first wife, Ruby (Corene Werner-3/18/10) on October 13, 1934 ... but they were only married 18 months when she died (10-25-1936).  It is possible that she was pregnant at the time though this has not been confirmed.   Another tragedy for Dad Simpkins.

But then joy came into his life when Dad married our Mother (Hilda Froese 1-19-1917) …. on October 5, 1940.   They were a happy team for almost 20 years, working hard together for their family, and for their church.

 About Dad’s Ministry ….

Dad was ordained in the Pentecostal Church Inc. … that later merged with Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ in 1945 … forming The United Pentecostal Church International.  His ordination transferred and he remained in the UPCI until he died.

He and Mom first pastored in Waynesville, IL …. where he was highly respected and dearly loved. 

During this time Theodore George (Teddy) (11-7-1941), Evangeline Rosine(Sissy) (4-14-1943) and Arthur Earl (Bud) (11-20-1945) were born.  

In summer of 1946 ... Dad and Mom accepted the pastorate of a small congregation in Cobden, IL with 13 people … where he pastored 13 ½ years.    

This is where Mary Elizabeth came into the picture!   Born September 30, in Anna, Illinois.  1947.

Those early years in Cobden were difficult in many ways, but they were productive and happy years.     When they first moved to Cobden, the family lived in the church basement, sleeping in Sunday School rooms, bathing in a wash tub or under a hose ... and sharing the church outdoor toilet that was down path from the church. 

But, Dad Simpkins could do almost anything ...

work on cars

raise a garden,

do plumbing and electrical work

fix most anything

and he even took a job cutting meat at a Clarence Hinkle’s grocery on Saturdays to help the family income. 

He was also a BUILDER … and he knew how to improvise … using casket boxes from the local Broadway Funeral Home to make cabinets, chairs, headboards for the beds … and so many things for the house and church.  

In time he completed the building of a TWO-STORY PARSONAGE next to the church …. where the children slept upstairs  - one room for the boys and one room for the girls.   They also now had an inside toilet and bath.  

Dad Simpkins was a very successful pastor, outstanding and innovative in his day …. and during those Cobden years ...

  1. the church grew from 13 in attendance … to over 200 on one Easter Sunday morning.
  2. Dad Simpkins cared about people. He was known at all the hospitals and nursing homes in the area…where he would go up and down the hallways visiting people and bringing cheer.   Sissy and Mary remember going to the Anna State Hospital almost every Sunday afternoon for services.  He cared about everyone.
  3. He was so well loved and respected in Cobden and in all of Southern Illinois … that even after all of these years, people still speak of what a great man and pastor he was… and how much he and Mom were loved.
  4. One person told me …. ”He was “pastor” for ALL of Southern Illinois, not just in Cobden


Then came a surprise blessing to the family ….  November 29, 1956, Sherrie was born in Anna, Illinois.

*** But, sadly, 2 years later, September 24, 1959, Mom Simpkins was killed in plane crash in the Rocky Mountain area of Idaho.   Mom was 43 … and Dad was 46.     Another tragedy for Dad Simpkins … especially since they didn’t find the wrecked plane for another 5 years.   I cannot imagine the agony he suffered of just … ’Not knowing.”

*** Of course, this totally changed all of our lives …

But DAD never let the hard times in his life harden him or change him.   He chose to handle his tragedies and grief by comforting others.   He never complained and he never lost his faith in God.  

January 1960, the First Apostolic Church in Carbondale, IL asked Dad to become their pastor …. which he was for 16 years.    Again, he was well loved by church and community.

During these years he:

Married Emma Froese (born 5/20/16) in January 12, 1961… she died 4-9-1971

Married Pearl Harrison Foster (born June23, 1918) on May 18,  1973 … she died February, 2009

Dad Simpkins was not only an over-comer … he was a VISIONARY!

  1. He was in on the ground floor of Church Builders –a concept of building pre-fab churches which were sent out all over the US.
  2. He was a Presbyter and served on the Illinois District Board for many years
  3. He served as Illinois District Camp Ground Secretary many years … and he loved the camps, especially working the camp refreshment stand.

His INFLUENCE LIVES ON … BECAUSE he was a mentor of several young ministers ... including Ted Simpkins, Jim Galbraith, Russell Jones and Michael Glasco to name a few … and he was definitely MY (Robert K. Rodenbush) mentor and my friend in ministry.  

Dad Simpkins taught us all many things … things we should not forget.   We all have a part of him and him in us …  

  1. He taught us THAT HUMILITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN BEING FAMOUS OR RECOGNIZED. He hated showoffs, especially in ministry.   He never sought the spotlight, recognition or praise for his work … or his ministry. 
  1. He taught us to WORK HARD! Dad could not tolerate anyone who was lazy … or anyone who thought they were too important or too good to get their hands dirty! 
  1. He taught us to HAVE FUN …. he loved to pull pranks on people …. and have a good time. (Read more about this in our book) 
  1. He taught us to BE COMPASSIONATE. He loved helping and encouraging people … and he definitely believed that it is more blessed to give than to receive. 
  1. He taught us about God. He was a TRUE CHRISTIAN …. and He lived what he preached. 

In a telegram to Sissy and me in Ghana West Africa … on January 12, 1976   (Dad died on January 11, 1976).  He is buried in Carbondale – Oakland? cemetery.

The print has almost disappeared,  but it reads:

‘DAD IS GONE TO HEAVEN …”         Signed:    MARY


He was only 63 years of age … but that telegram pretty well sums it up … He fought a GREAT fight,  He kept the faith … and He finished the course!    

I’m so proud … as all of you are … to call him  DAD SIMPKINS.


Note:  Most of this information was given at Mary’s 70th Birthday party by Robert K. Rodenbush