Joseph Gravett Simpkins Jr.

Joseph Gravett Simpkins Jr.

December 24, 1953 - April 07, 2022
6500 Iron Bridge Rd

Joseph Gravett Simpkins Jr.

December 24, 1953 - April 07, 2022
6500 Iron Bridge Rd


Joseph Gravett Simpkins, Jr. was born on December 24, 1953, the third child to Gracie and Joe Simpkins.  He is survived by his partner of 32 years Michael Fojtik; sisters, Peggy Galmish and Brenda Sneider; and countless nieces and nephews.

During his high school years Joe’s passion for trombone flourished.  Mr. Jack Winn (Joe’s high school music instructor) was a major influence during this time and became a lifelong friend.

Joe was a graduate of VCU majoring in music education and then pursued his Master’s degree in 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 Richmond area public 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 also 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 and every concert to the military members who serve our country.

Perhaps the reason Joe was able to inspire the musical talents in others and make the Pops such a success was that he had innate teaching ability and a genuine interest in people.  He values loyalty and possessed the rare gift of a kind heart.  He was keenly interested in history, but it went beyond the textbook, to learn about the personal back-story of the struggles and accomplishments of the people he met.  This often led him to help others who many might have seen as marginalized members of society.  He also had the ability to look for the positive side of life and refused to dwell on bad memories.  He had many loves and yet they were simple: spending time with family and friends, playing with his dogs Rusty and Angelo, pushing dirt with a bulldozer, telling a good joke and story, visiting Disneyworld and Las Vegas, adding plants for scenic viewing to his golf cart trail, designing websites and learning how to fix any home repair.  Joe was extremely proud of his efforts with the Pops, but also of all he did with designing and building home.  No tour was complete without the viewing of the computer closet and furnace room.

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.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to Richmond’s Pop Band, 3811 Cottrell Road, Richmond, VA 23234.


  • Date & Time: April 13, 2022 (10:00 AM - 12:00 PM)
  • Venue: Morrissett Funeral & Cremation Service
  • Location: 6500 Iron Bridge Rd North Chesterfield, VA 23234 - (Get Directions)
  • Phone Number: (804) 275-7828

Funeral Service

  • Date & Time: April 13, 2022 (12:00 PM)
  • Venue: Morrissett Funeral & Cremation Service
  • Location: 6500 Iron Bridge Rd North Chesterfield, VA 23234 - (Get Directions)
  • Phone Number: (804) 275-7828

Graveside Service

  • Date & Time: April 13, 2022 (3:00 PM)
  • Venue: Shepherd's United Methodist Church
  • Location: 163 Fleets Mill Road Saint Stephens Church, VA 23148 - (Get Directions)

Richmond's Pop Band

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Joseph Simpkins Jr. Tribute Video

Joseph Simpkins Jr. Funeral Video

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18 responses to Joseph Gravett Simpkins Jr.

  1. Most all of my fondest high school memories are because of Joe Simpkins.

    “Not, how did he die, but how did he live?
    Not, what did he gain, but what did he give?
    These are the units to measure the worth
    Of a man as a man, regardless of birth.
    Not, what was his church, nor what was his creed?
    But had he befriended those really in need?
    Was he ever ready, with a word of good cheer,
    To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
    Not, what did the words in the newspapers say
    But how many were sad when he passed away?”

  2. Kevin O'Hare says:

    He will always be King Tut!!! Had such an impact on so many of us!!!!!!

  3. Tim Stacy says:

    Today is a sad day. I remember Joe as always supportive, kind, tough and a never ending perfectionist. As a young student at Clover Hill High and a member of the band, I was inspired by his wit, wisdom and intellect… pulling a group of kids into a successful team…truly remarkable. I was fortunate to see Joe at a Pops concert a few years back… it was like time never past. I apologized for being a bratty kid and he just shrugged it off, gave me a hug and it was just like old times, setting up for Bingo or getting ready for band practice. Joe, you will forever be missed. Thank you for everything.

  4. I knew Joe when he was a student at Falling Creek Middle School and under the musical direction of Pat Shumate. He was so dedicated to music even back then.

  5. Dawn Hawkins says:

    Mike, so sorry for your loss. Thinking if you during this time.

    Dawn and Gene Hawkins

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