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In Memoriam

Joseph Gravett Simpkins Jr.


Joe Simpkins, who served 28 years as music director of the Richmond Pops passed away on April 7, 2022. Joe was a graduate from VCU majoring in music education and school administration. Upon completion, he began his career as music director at Clover Hill High School where he made a lasting impact on their music program. He moved on to serve as an administrator in the school system and created his own business to become the executive director of Dixie Classic Festivals. Through Dixie Classic, Joe encouraged music education and band performance by providing competitions in various cities on the east coast. It was through Dixie and selecting judges, that Joe made cherished relationships with admired composers, arrangers, and conductors. In 1994 Joe found his niche when he became the conductor of the Richmond Pops Band, an all-volunteer organization serving the Richmond community. Under Joe’s leadership and direction, the Band grew to become a premier performance ensemble.

Besides his work as the conductor, Joe became an integral part of the Pops from printing tickets, writing and answering letters to the community, arranging the venue, selecting performers, to writing  narratives for the host. Joe developed special relationships with the Salvation Army and Military performing groups. He made a point of dedicating each concert to the military members who serve our country. Joe was an extremely giving and unique individual. He will be missed by countless in the Richmond community, his musical colleagues, and family and friends.

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