Liberians from all walks of life gathered in their numbers on a quiet and cool Saturday last week to pay their last respects to one of their outstanding sons of the legal profession, Clarence Lorenzo Simpson, Jr., former Associate Justice, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Liberia, among many other top positions he held.
The mourners, including family members, who gathered at the Trinity Cathedral on Broad Street in Monrovia in the early morning hours, were led at the state funeral by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and a full representation of the judicial branch of government. The mourners, in their hundreds, gathered to say goodbye to the fallen one-time Justice Minister for his numerous services to the state.
In his homily, the Dean of Trinity Cathedral, Rev. Dr. Herman B. Browne, said the late Associate Justice lived a fulfilled life and was connected to God as indicative of his presence in Sunday morning mass every week.
The Dean said Cllr. Simpson was always serious about worshipping God and knew exactly how to connect with others, adding that Cllr. Simpson was a humble public servant who impacted the legal profession meaningfully and offered his time, life and services to the advancement of God’s work despite his busy schedule.
“He was the man who gave himself to the ministry of Christ as he was engaged in the rehabilitation of the church and other church-related projects,” Dean Browne said. Speaking from the books of Lamentation 3:22-26; 31-33 and Romans 14:1-6
Rev. Browne called on members of the congregation to serve God and humanity with commitment and enthusiasm and show concern for the work of their respective churches as Cllr. Clarence Lorenzo Simpson did.
President Sirleaf was there to pay her last respects to a man described by many as a distinguished public servant, statesman and patriot.
The Chief Justice, Cllr. Francis Korpor, noted that the death of Cllr. Simpson is a great loss to the Liberian state and the legal profession as a whole. He said the country has lost one of its best legal minds, describing former Associate Justice Simpson as a man of trust and integrity.
Justice Minister, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, described the fallen Associate Justice as a professional and one of Liberia’s outstanding legal minds. Cllr. Sannoh said the late Cllr. Simpson served his country diligently with integrity, honesty and commitment.
He added that Cllr. Simpson was a major link between the past and present in the history of jurisprudence of Liberia.
The late Associate Justice died late Saturday afternoon, January 30, at his residence in Jahtondo Town, Brewerville, Montserrado County, after a period of illness.
He was the son of former Vice President Clarence Lorenzo Simpson, Sr., who signed on behalf of Liberia during the formation of the United Nations on October 24, 1945 in Lake Success, New York, United States.
Born on June 15, 1933 in Monrovia, Cllr. Simpson completed his secondary education at the Williston Academy, East Hampton, Massachusetts, USA.
He later entered the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and graduated in 1953 with a B.A. in Political Science and Government. Upon his graduation that same year, Cllr. Simpson enrolled at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he earned the LLB in Law.
He returned home in 1958 and commenced working with the government as a Legal Counsel for the Department of Public Works and Utilities, now Ministry of Public Works.
He later joined the Supreme Court bar in 1961, and in 1964 he was appointed by the late President William V.S. Tubman as Associate Justice of the High Court on the James A. A. Pierre Bench.
Cllr. Simpson served as Associate Justice until 1971 when he resigned to serve as Minister of Justice, the first to do so. He served as Minister until 1974, when he resigned from government and entered private life.
He founded the Simpson Law Firm, which was established in 1958, with the late Cllr. Peter Amos George. In 1959, his late father, Cllr. Clarence L. Simpson Sr., who was then Vice President to President Tubman, retired from government to lead the Simpson Law Firm.
He was a member of the Episcopal Church of Liberia and served two terms as Diocesan Chancellor.
Meanwhile, the funeral was also attended by former members of the National Legislature, Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and members of the Cabinet, as well as some members of the diplomatic corps, ministries and agencies of government.
The remains of the late Associate Justice were laid to rest at the family’s cemetery in Royesville, outside Monrovia.