Catesby Simpson carries apples to the porch of her home, most of which was built in 1785. She moved back into the home five years ago after her mother, Pat Simpson, passed at age 93.
Catesby Simspon’s mother, Pat Simpson, was fiercely strong-willed, up until the day she passed five years ago at age 93.

One day in her last years, after she had gone blind, Pat went to pull weeds behind the house. She slipped down the creek bank and grabbed a tree trunk to keep from falling in. Catesby says her mother hugged that tree for eight hours, waiting for someone to rescue her. The next day she was back out weeding.

Catesby says there was never any talking Pat out of doing what she wanted to do. “She remained doggedly independent,” she says.

In 2017, in her 90s, Pat was at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. She refused to have a joint tombstone with her husband, Lad. “I’ll have my own rock,” Pat told the funeral director. She lived in and took care of her 238-year-old home, called Kiser Station, until 10 days before she passed.

Catesby tries to carry on that legacy by being an active force in the community.
After her mother passed, Catesby moved back to Kiser Station, taking over the 100-acre homeplace. She had moved into the house for the first time in third grade, when her parents were helping a neighbor look for a house and fell in love with the land.

Catesby, a graduate of Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, is self-sufficient and politically active. She manages her father's cattle farm with her business partner, Kyle Sturgeon; is on the board of the Hopewell Museum; is a member of Friends of Stoner Creek environmental club; and is a regular fruit picker at Reed Valley Orchard.

“I just turned 68 last week, and you get to the point where there is more life left behind than in front of you,” she says. “You start thinking not what you can do for yourself, but what you can do for your community.”

Before cattle farming, she drove the Paris Library's bookmobile. In her most recent advocacy, she spoke at a library meeting against book banning, stating, “I believe in libraries.”
Kathy Carter, a good friend who also is on the museum board, says Catesby's bond with her mother was special. “They loved an occasional half a beer; they would split beer,” she says. “Pat probably spent her last day digging up weeds in her beautiful garden.”

Catesby took care of her mother with patience in her later years and let her live her life to the fullest until the end. Their relationship grew fonder as they got older. And while others sometimes questioned her, Catesby let her mother decide what she could and couldn’t do up until the day she died.

“We really were close in those last few years,” she says. “You take care of someone for a while and are close to them in a way you weren’t before.”

Catesby prepares food for a reception at the Hopewell Museum in Paris, which was opening an exhibit of horse photography by the late Tony Leonard.

Catesby laughs as she recalls childhood stories about her and her brothers. They fought a lot when they were young, such as who had to sit in the middle of the back seat of the family car, but now they get along well.

Catesby eats breakfast every Thursday at the Paris Stockyards, occasionally buying or selling cattle from her farm across the road. She manages the two family farms, which have a total of 685 acres.

At a stockyards cattle auction, Catesby sits among the bidders.

Catesby shows Marcus Gaddis a tree on her farm. He is renovating a storefront in town and hopes to use the tree for new flooring.

Catesby picks apples for her and her brother's family at Reed Valley Orchard, now a part of Stepping Stone Farm. She picked 136 pounds.

Every morning Catesby feeds a calf behind the barn on her smaller farm. She keeps her father's old tractor in the barn.

Catesby eats lunch with her second cousin, Mary Henderson, whom she calls Hendy. She often goes to Lil's Coffee House, a popular restaurant on Main Street.

Catesby looks up at her mother's photograph, which shows her leaning against her favorite tree on the property. That was one of the last photos she took of her mother.

Published on The Mountain Workshop Website 
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