For the past one hundred years, a steady string of Simpsons have practiced law in the sparsely populated state of Wyoming—"the land of high altitude and low multitude" as Simpson's Dad often phrased it! It began with Simpson's grandfather, William L. Simpson, and was followed by his father, Milward L. Simpson. Alan K. Simpson was the third generation lawyer in the family. Simpson's two sons, William L. and Colin M. Simpson carry on in the family lawyer tradition today, practicing in the town of Cody.
Simpson was born September 2, 1931 and is a native of Cody, Wyoming. He is the second son of Milward L. and Lorna K. Simpson. His entire childhood was spent in Cody where he graduated from Cody High School. Before entering college, Simpson spent a postgraduate year at Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan to have a look at life outside of the Cowboy State. He then returned to begin his college career, entering the University of Wyoming in 1950 and completing his degree, a Bachelor of Science in Law, in 1954. While at the university, Simpson was an active member of the Student Senate, a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity, president of the "W" Club Lettermen's organization and he lettered in both varsity football and basketball for the Cowboys.
Upon graduation from college, he joined the Army and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. Simpson was married in the summer of 1954 to the former Ann Schroll of Greybull, Wyoming and was ordered to Fort Benning, Georgia in November of that year. He served overseas in the 5th Infantry Division and in the 2nd Armored Division (Hell on Wheels) in the final months of the Army of Occupation in Germany. Following his honorable discharge in 1956, Wyoming beckoned once again and Simpson returned to the University of Wyoming to complete his study of law, earning his Juris Doctorate degree in 1958.
After being admitted to the Wyoming Bar and the United States District Court in 1958 and serving for a short time as Wyoming Assistant Attorney General, Simpson joined his father, Milward L. Simpson, and later Charles G. Kepler, in the law firm of Simpson, Kepler and Simpson in his hometown of Cody. He would practice law there for the next 18 years. During that time, Simpson was very active in all civic, community and state activities. He also served ten years as City Attorney.
A member of a political family—his father served both as Governor of Wyoming from 1954 to 1958 and as United States Senator from Wyoming from 1962 to 1966—Simpson chose to follow in his father's footsteps and began his own political career in 1964 when he was elected to the Wyoming State Legislature as a state representative of his native Park County. He served for the next 13 years in the Wyoming House of Representatives, holding the offices of Majority Whip, Majority Floor Leader and Speaker Pro-Tem. His only brother, Peter was also a member of the Student Senate at the University of Wyoming and also served as a member of the Wyoming Legislature and he recently retired as a visiting professor at the University of Wyoming.
In 1978, Simpson ran for, and was elected to, the United States Senate. After a successful first term, he was re-elected in 1984 with 78% of the vote and then again in 1990 to a third term with 65% of the vote. Following his first term in the Senate, Simpson was elected by his peers to the position of the Assistant Majority Leader in 1984—and served Majority Leader Bob Dole in that capacity until 1994. He completed his final term on January 3, 1997.
From January of 1997 until June of 2000, Simpson was a visiting lecturer and for 2 years, the director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. During the Fall of 2000 he returned to his Alma Mater, the University of Wyoming, as a Visiting Lecturer in the Political Science Department and was a part-time teacher of a class with his brother, Peter, entitled, "Wyoming's Political Identity: Its History and Its Politics," proving to be one of the most popular classes offered at UW. He served as one of the ten bipartisan members on the respected Iraq Study Group chaired by Lee Hamilton (Dem.) and Jim Baker (Rep.) and he co- chaired National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with Erskine Bowles. He is the co- Founder, with Erskine Bowles, of The Campaign to Fix the Debt, a non-partisan movement to put America on a better fiscal and economic path.
He is also a partner in the Cody firm of Simpson, Kepler and Edwards, the Cody division of the Denver firm of Burg Simpson Eldredge, Hersh & Jardine, PC. He pre-served on numerous corporate and non-profit boards and still travels the country presenting speeches and lectures on a variety of subjects. He authored a book published by William Morrow Company, Right in the Old Gazoo: A Lifetime of Scrapping with the Press, which chronicles his personal experiences and views of the Fourth Estate. His biography was published by long-time friend Donald Loren Hardy in September 2011 entitled Shooting from the Lip.
For the past several years, he has very much enjoyed his relationship with the renowned composer and conductor John Williams and has performed his suite from The Rievers (William Faulkner's Pulitzer Prize Winning Novel) at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, the Boston Pops in Boston, Massachusetts, The Chicago Symphony in Chicago, Illinois and the Marine Corps Band at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. He has also previously narrated The Lincoln Portrait at the Grand Teton Music Festival and the Cheyenne Symphony and has also narrated Gustav Holst's The Planets: A Symphonic Film with the Grand Teton Music Festival and also Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf with the Festival Orchestra.
Simpson and his wife have three children and six grandchildren all who reside in Cody, Wyoming.