Who was Joseph T. Simpson?

The Mechanicsburg Area Public Library changed its name in January 2003 to the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library as a result of a $500,000 contribution from the Helen M. and Joseph T. Simpson Foundation during the library’s $1M capital campaign.

Mr. Simpson was born on November 10, 1906 in Columbia, PA and was the son of Vernon and Maud Simpson. In 1924, he graduated from Columbia High School.

He was employed as a stenographer in the Purchasing Department of Harrisburg Pipe and Pipe Bending Company in 1924 which became the Harrisburg Steel Corporation in 1935.

He married Helen M. Smith, of Lemoyne, PA in 1929. The Simpson’s have two children, Jerry T., of Mechanicsburg, PA, and Mrs. Edwin A. Higgins, of Harrisburg, PA.

In 1940, Mr. Simpson was appointed Assistant Secretary of Harrisburg Steel Corporation and in 1942 was elected Secretary of the Corporation.

He became Vice President and Secretary on March 31, 1948 and on November 30 was named President. He immediately began laying the groundwork for expansion of the firm into a world-wide operation.

In 1956, the company name changed to Harsco, reflecting its new status as a global corporation. With the change, Harrisburg Steel became one of Harsco’s divisions.

Mr. Simpson assumed the additional duties of board chairman in 1962 In 1968, he retained the role of Chief Executive Officer and the title of Chairman of the Board, but relinquished the title of President.

In 1971, he retained the title of Chairman of the Board, but relinquished the role of Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Simpson passed away in March 1989.

During his career he held the following business and public service affiliations:

  • Director, Pennsylvania Power and Light Company.
  • Director, AMP, Incorporated and Pamcor, Inc.
  • Director, Dauphin Deposit Trust Company.
  • President, Kline Foundation.
  • President, Board of Directors, Polyclinic Hospital.
  • Trustee, Gettysburg College.
  • Former Trustee, Lycoming College
  • State Director, Business-Industry Political Action Committee.
  • Board of Advisors, National Schools Committee for Economic Education, Inc.
  • Director, Hall’s Motor Transit Company.

From J.G. Underwood:
Most of us at Harsco have been privileged to work with Joe Simpson for many years; the rest, of course, for relatively shorter periods but whatever the span of time all would agree that we are wiser and better persons as a result of our association with this man of warm personality and ready wit. Philanthropist, public servant, teacher, counselor—Joe is all of these but first and foremost he is a businessman—a practical man of firm convictions, an outspoken advocate of the free enterprise system and a true believer in the rights of the individual.

Through his leadership and courage this Company has grown from a single plant with five products into a multinational giant spanning five continents with hundreds of facilities. Today there are 27 major product classes with sales approaching ½ billion dollars. A man of indefatigable energy Joe Simpson epitomizes the credo which says that work is a high human function…the most dignified thing in the life of a man.

His wise counsel which has served us so well in the past will continue to guide us as we face the challenge of the future. The Golden Years of Harsco have truly been the Joe Simpson years – for Harsco is Joe Simpson and Joe Simpson is Harsco.



Page Updated

September 12, 2019