Agnes Westervelt Dowling Simpson, 87, longtime resident of the Wiregrass Area passed away peacefully on Monday, April 23, 2012 at her residence.
Mrs. Simpson was born May 29, 1924 in Prescott, AZ and moved to Dunedin, FL at an early age. She graduated from Clearwater High School with honors and attended the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa where she was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority and met her future husband R.A. Dowling. She served in the U.S. Navy during WWII and returned to the Wiregrass Area to raise her family. In 1947, along with her husband she was granted a license to put an AM Radio Station on the air which was called WOOF. In 1960 Agnes and R.A. compiled and published the complete genealogy of the Dowling Family of the South. Following her husband’s death, Agnes forged on with the radio station and in 1963 she filed for the first FM radio station in Dothan as well as one of the first in the state of Alabama. WOOF FM 99.7 went live on the air in September 1964. She was a vital part of the radio station working daily selling commercials and broadcasting on both stations in which she won awards for her news casting. She was the current president of WOOF Radio and went to the office daily until her recent brief illness.
Mrs. Simpson was a longtime member of the Episcopal Church of the Nativity in Dothan where she was dedicated to a lifetime of service. Her service in the church included being the first woman to serve on the Vestry and was elected by the parishioners to be a Junior Warden and Senior Warden. She was a member of the choir and the Altar Guild for over 50 years. Mrs. Simpson was also a graduate of the First Theological Education by Extension Course offered at the Church of the Nativity.
Many awards and acknowledgments have been bestowed upon Mrs. Simpson, some of the most memorable being; the Silver Medal Award from the Dothan Advertising Federation (their highest award), the first female to receive the Alabama Broadcaster of the Year (1987), Woman of the Year Dothan, AL (1961), Arthritis Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year (1996), Southeast Alabama Advertising Federation’s 1st ever Advertising Pioneer Award (2003), and the Dothan Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Membership Award (2003).
Mrs. Simpson was an advocate of community service and was involved with many organizations including; Past President of the Alabama Broadcaster’s Association, Member of the Governor’s Task Force on Economic Development, Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce, Salvation Army, Downtown Redevelopment Authority, Fine Arts Club, Book Review Club, Dothan-Houston County Substance Abuse Board, Friends of the Opera House, Bridge Club, Dothan Advertising Federation, Parent Teacher Association, Alabama Air Fair, Dothan Country Club, Eclectas Club, Historical Society, S.E.D.A.C. Board, Cherokee Garden Club, and Kiwanis Club. She was also inducted in the First Alabama Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame in 2008 and the First Dothan Area chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame in 2011.
Mrs. Simpson was preceded in death by her parents, Raymond Britton Westervelt and Agnes Ethel Burns Westervelt, her husband R.A. Dowling, her sons Raymond Britton Dowling and Brian Westervelt Dowling, and a granddaughter Ariane Cassegrain Livaudais.
Survivors include her daughters, Jeannie Dowling Livaudais of Mandeville, LA, and Leigh Simpson Thomas and her husband Jonathan of Pinckard, AL; her son Haywood Hart Dowling of Dothan; grandchildren, Laura Catherine Dowling of Dallas, TX, Britten Livaudais Treder and her husband Christoph of Mandeville, LA, Alexandra Livaudais Brenan and her husband Tim of Virginia Beach, VA, Ariane Montgomery Livaudais of New Orleans, LA, and Zachary Simpson of Newtonville, MA; a host of extended family and friends also survive.
From the Alabama Broadcaster's Association
Broadcast Pioneer Agnes Simpson passes
Agnes Westervelt Dowling Simpson of Dothan passed away yesterday at the age of 87. She served a term as ABA President in 1979-80 and in 1987, became the first female Broadcaster of the Year. She attended the University of Alabama; was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and served in the Navy during World War II.
Agnes Simpson was been a pioneer of advertising in Southeast Alabama ever since she, along with her late husband, R.A. Dowling, put a 5,000 watt (WOOF-AM 560) station on the air in 1947.
Independently she had the foresight in 1963, to file for the first FM stereo in the state and signed it on, WOOF-FM99.7, in the fall of 1964. Through the years, Agnes sold commercials, broadcast on-air and remained a fixture at the stations until recently.
Not only did Agnes Simpson playe a significant part in the broadcasting industry, she was involved with numerous organizations, working to make her community a better place to live. A partial list of those organizations includes: Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club, Salvation Army, Dothan-Houston County Substance Abuse Board, Friends of the Opera House, Eclectas Club, and the Dothan Advertising Federation (now AAF Dothan).
She was the mother of five children: Britt, Brian, Jeannie, Hart and Leigh. In addition, she had six grandchildren.
-PAST PRESIDENT, ALABAMA BROADCASTER’S ASSOCIATION
-DOTHAN ADVERTISING FEDERATION’S HIGHEST AWARD, THE SILVER MEDAL AWARD RECIPIENT
-ALABAMA BROADCASTER OF THE YEAR (1987) (FIRST FEMALE)
-WOMAN OF THE YEAR, DOTHAN, AL (1961)
-HUMANINTARIAN OF THE YEAR, ARTHRITIS FOUNDATION (1996)
-SOUTHEAST ALABAMA ADVERTSING FEDERATION’S 1ST EVER ADVERTISING PIONEER AWARD (2003)
-DOTHAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP AWARD (2003)
-SERVED AS MEMBER OF THE GOVERNOR’S TASK FORCE ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
-ATTENDED THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA, MEMBER OF KAPPA KAPPA GAMMA SORORITY
-ALONG WITH LATE HUSBAND R.A. DOWLING, PUT 5,000 WATT AM STATION ON THE AIR IN 1947 (WOOF AT 560 kw)
-BY HERSELF IN 1963 FILED FOR THE FIRST FM STEREO RADIO STATION IN DOTHAN, AND ONE OF THE FIRST IN THE STATE (WOOF FM 99.7 WENT ON THE AIR IN SEPTEMBER 1964).
-SOLD COMMERCIALS AND BROADCAST IN PERSON ON BOTH AM AND FM, WINNING STATE AWARDS FOR HER NEWSCASTING. PRESENTLY SHE SERVES AS PRESIDENT OF WOOF INC. WHERE SHE STILL GOES IN TO WORK 7 DAYS A WEEK AND CONTINUES TO PLAY A VITAL PART IN WOOF’S SUCCESS.
-SERVED IN THE NAVY DURING WORLD WAR II
-WITH HER LATE HUSBAND R.A. DOWLING, COMPILED AND PUBLISHED THE GENEALOGY OF THE DOWLING FAMILY OF THE SOUTH IN 1960.
-HAS SERVED ON THE BOARDS OF OR AS PRESIDENT OF MANY ORGANIZATIONS, INCLUDING:
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PTA
SALVATION ARMY ALABAMA AIR FAIR
DOWNTOWN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY DOTHAN COUNTRY CLUB
FINE ARTS CLUB ECLECTAS CLUB
BOOK REVIEW CLUB HISTORICAL SOCIETY
DOTHAN HOUSTON CO. SUBSTANCE ABUSE BOARD S.E.D.A.C. BOARD
FRIENDS OF THE OPERA HOUSE CHEROKEE GARDEN CLUB
BRIDGE CLUB KIWANIS CLUB
DOTHAN ADVERTISING FEDERATION
(JUST TO NAME A FEW!)
-LIFETIME SERVICE TO THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY, INCLUDING BEING THE FIRST WOMAN TO SERVE ON THE VESTRY AND TO BE ELECTED BY PARISHIONERS TO BE JUNIOR WARDEN AND SENIOR WARDEN. SHE HAS BEEN A MEMBER IN THE CHOIR AND THE ALTAR GUILD FOR OVER 50 YEARS. SHE HAS TAUGHT SUNDAY SCHOOL AND IS A GRADUATE OF THE FIRST THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION BY EXTENSION COURSE AT CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY.
-INDUCTEE IN FIRST DOTHAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS HALL OF FAME (2011)
-INDUCTEE IN FIRST ALABAMA BROADCASTERS HALL OF FAME (2008)
Funeral services will be held 11 am Saturday, April 28, 2012 at the Episcopal Church of the Nativity with Rev. Jim Flowers officiating. Graveside services will follow in Memory Hill Cemetery with Robert Byrd directing. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to your favorite charity.