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The Simpkins – A “Pioneer” Family

Curt Simpkins - 1972
Curt Simpkins – 1972

The following was sent by Central Alumnus, Curt Simpkins (CC ’73) to President Leonard Favara (CC ’89, ’91) in September of 2020. It is a captivating story regarding a great Central family and the topic of space travel. In the article, Simpkins mentions the reason for writing to President Favara, that being an article the President wrote in August of 2020 for that edition of the “Central Bulletin”. You can find that article here:

Dear President Favara,

First, I will introduce myself: My name is Curt Simpkins and I graduated from Central in 1973.

In the August 2020 issue of the “Central Bulletin,” you mentioned your interest in space, space travel, etc. so I thought you might find the enclosed information, authored by my father of interest. My father, H.E. Simpkins graduated from Central in 1937. From there he transferred to Greenville College (now University). Upon graduation from Greenville, he moved to California where he took a job with Lockheed Aircraft. He worked at Lockheed throughout WWII where he designed aircraft components. He met his wife, my mother, during the war. She was a “Rosie the Riveter” and installed rivets on B-25’s. They married in 1946.

My sister, Myrna Simpkins­ Duneman, and her husband, Stan Duneman, graduated from Central in 1971 and Greenville in 1973. I also graduated from Greenville [as did] my father’s brother, F. Keith Simpkins. Keith’s name along with his wife, Ruby are on a plaque on the Central clock tower.

My sister and I were both born in Pasadena, California. In January of 1956, my father accepted a position with Beech Aircraft as an aerospace engineer at the new Beech facility in Boulder, Colorado. My father was involved in the U.S. space program from its inception through his designs for the space shuttle. His specialty was cryogenics. His designs were used on every U.S. manned space mission from the first Mercury flights through the shuttle. He also designed some of the cryogenic equipment used on the lunar module (LM or LEM), some of which are still on the moon! Also, of interest, we lived next door to the parents of Longmont, CO astronaut Vance Brand – Rudy and Donna Brand. I had my picture taken with Vance and my father had some interesting conversations with Vance when he came home to visit his parents.

Sometime in the 1980’s, [I believe], my father was featured in an article in the Central Bulletin as a “featured alumnus” in which he was referred to as a “space pioneer” (see 1987 Central Bulletin article here). After graduating from Greenville my father was never required to take any additional education which I feel speaks volumes for the great education he received at Central and Greenville!

I hope you enjoy the enclosed information.

Curt Simpkins


Central Christian College of Kansas is a regionally accredited institution offering undergraduate and graduate-level programs. Central strives to offer Christ-centered education for the whole person – heart, mind, soul, and strength. Its history dates back to 1884, and it is located in the friendly town of McPherson, Kansas. Central is a strategically small college that offers over forty areas of residential study and a thriving online program for non-traditional students. To learn more about who Central is go to Visit the Foundation of Central Christian College to see what projects and events are coming up.

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