Donna Lynn Mosley Simpson

Donna Lynn Mosley Simpson

KNOX — Like her favorite president, Harry Truman, Donna Lynn Mosley Simpson came from a hard-working background and overcame tough odds.

He succeeded an iconic presidency and won election; she raised three sons, worked full time, and studied part-time to become a history teacher. Lupus halted her career, but she recovered dramatically from each attack of the disease and other health complications.

She died of cardiac arrest on Friday, July 18, 2014 after a long and courageous battle with lupus, her son, Zachary Simpson, said Tuesday. She was 56. She was in Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts.

She wrote most of a book distilling her advice on buying used cars and made sure her grandchildren all had baseball supplies before she died.

“Everything she did, she just tried to do for her kids,” her son, Richard Mosley said. “In the end, she was buying buckets of baseballs for the kids, she was buying boxes of gloves for the grandkids. She was buying these huge bundles of bats for the grandkids. Because, none of the kids are old enough to use them. We were getting crazy deliveries from Mom, just for the kids. You know what, they’re all going to be relics.”

Donna Lynn Mosley Simpson was born on Feb. 19, 1958 to the late Andrew Mosley and Antoinette (née Arcolano) Vorm. Her mother was taken on a toboggan during a blizzard for the delivery in Albany, Mr. Simpson said.

She grew up in Guilderland Center and later moved to Knox.

She earned her GED (General Education Development) from Berne-Knox-Westerlo. She stopped attending when she was pregnant with her first son, Richard, and returned to school soon after to get her diploma and graduate. At 31, she got an associate degree from Maria College and her bachelor’s degree from Siena College, studying secondary education. 

Before her illness, she worked as a clerk at the New York State Department of Transportation, in the Traffic and Safety Division.

For her degree, she taught at Blessed Sacrament School in Albany. Her son, Zachary Simpson, went with her at times while she taught at the school and researched in the library. Her own mother had gone back to school later in life, too, to become a nurse.

“She was strict with homework and assignments, she was a tough grader, but she was also compassionate,” Mr. Simpson said of his mother. “She knew if there was a kid in her class having a difficult time in their home.”

She met her husband, Robert Simpson, while she and a friend were caught in a snowstorm and knocked on the door to his geodesic dome in Knox, seeking shelter. They married six weeks after they met, said Zachary Simpson.

She built their home with her husband, laying cinder blocks for the foundation while she was pregnant, her son said. The family kept several animals, including horses, goats, chickens, dogs, and cats. She enjoyed being around nature.

She had close relationships with her sons. She was dedicated to getting them to see doctors, even for preventative measures, and she helped repair their cars.

“I remember sitting at the kitchen table with her, even when I was a little kid, just chatting, just talking with my mom. It was just he way we were,” said Mr. Simpson. “We used to sit and have tea together; we used to go shopping together. We used to just get in the car and drive together.”

A Catholic, she named one son Jordan Francis Simpson, after St. Francis of Assisi. She wanted her sons to make moral decisions and tell the truth, her son Jordan Simpson said.

“Probably every time I do that for the rest of my life I’ll think of her, because she always compared it to St. Francis,” he said.

Her ability to repair cars came from watching her father, but her work ethic came from her mother.

When Jordan Simpson started his own moving business, she was one of the few people who believed he would be successful, he said, buying him a used box truck and refusing to be paid back.

“It’s in my driveway right now and that’s how I make my money, and I  support my family with that,” her son said.

She felt guilty after her mother’s death because, amid her busy schedule, she hadn’t called her on her last birthday. She was devastated by her mother’s death, as she was by the death of her brother, a combat medic shot and killed in Vietnam, and her son’s injury when he was hit by a drunk driver and was in a coma.

But, she recovered from each set back. Zachary Simpson said she taught him to laugh a lot, and, “if you get knocked down, just get right back up the best you can. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t wallow in self pity.”

She was often smiling, an example to her sons to keep a positive outlook, Jordan Simpson said.

Her son, Richard Mosley, said he called her “Mama Bear” after he recovered from the car accident.

“She became my legend,” Mr. Mosley said. “I found out when I woke up that she was there every day.”

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She is survived by her husband, Robert Simpson; her sons, Richard Mosley and Nancy Mosley of Knox, Jordan Simpson of Knox, and Zachary Simpson and John Kraigenow of Albany; her grandchildren, Abigail, Alissa, Sierra, and Ronan of Knox; her sister, Andrea Jeffers of Albany; her brother, Stuart Mosley of Knox; and many nieces and nephews.

Her brother, Specialist Fourth Class Richard Mosley, died before her, as did her granddaughter, Nova Simpson.

A memorial service was held on July 23 at St. Lucy's Church in Altamont.  Interment followed at Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery in Niskayuna. Arrangements were by the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont. 

Memorial contributions may be made to Helderberg Ambulance Squad, Post Office Box 54 East Berne, NY 12059 and the Lupus Foundation of America, Inc., Post Office Box 418629 Boston, MA 02241-8629 or http://www.lupus.org/action/join-the-fight.

— Marcello Iaia

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