James F. Harron, Sr.
It is with profound sadness that we report the passing of Jim Harron Sr., an icon, a master storyteller, a man with a thirst for knowledge and lover of life. Jim passed away on January 18 peacefully at home surrounded by family. He and his wife, Joan, bought Simpson & Vail in the 70’s and worked together here for 44 years. They took an almost failing business and turned it into the brand you see today. While they turned the reins of the company over to their eldest son, Jim, and daughter, Cyndi, years ago, they still came to work every day. Jim was in the store entertaining customers as recently as this Christmas season, delighting them with stories about teas or some of the marvelous adventures he’s had and discoveries he’s made over the years. He will be sorely missed by his family, all the employees here, his friends and the community. Jim lived life to the fullest and cherished every day. We hope to honor him by doing the same.
We are dedicated to bringing you the finest quality, most health conscious products available at the fairest prices.
The Harron Family: From left to right: Jim Sr., Joan, Cyndi, Monica, Jim Jr., James, Paulina.
Mr. Walbridge, Photograph courtesy of Margaret Trapp Cruse
Lester B. Vail, Photograph courtesy of Margaret Trapp Cruse
For years Simpson & Vail, Inc. was located In New York City on Water St., then Front St., then Park Place. Besides the location changes, the business grew and numerous phases occurred. From 1929 to 1962, bulk tea was the only product Simpson & Vail, Inc. carried. In 1962 roasted coffee and teabags were added. Late in 1978, Jim and Joan Harron purchased Simpson & Vail Inc., and in 1979, they added specialty food products and tea accessories as well as expanding the tea and coffee lines.
Here is Jim Sr. sitting by a piece of Simpson & Vail history, the roll top desk that was Lester Vail's personal desk in 1929 (86 years old). The desk was given to us by Barbara Cruse and Mary Gannon, daughters of Margaret Trapp Cruse who was the first Simpson & Vail employee in 1929 and retired from S&V in the mid 1970's. (See Margaret’s bio below.) After Margaret retired she was given some S&V memorabilia, which she had cared for until she passed away on July 16, 2012.
(left - Margaret Trapp (Cruse) & Lester Vail – Wall Street, NYC 1932)
Margaret had many accomplishments in her life – certainly in her era. And while her successes in the business world of S&V were important to those of us that followed her, Margaret's joy was her husband of 48 years, Clinton, and their daughters. In the years to follow Margaret would also enjoy the company of her ever expanding family as well as squeeze in the time for a lot of volunteer work and bringing smiles to people’s faces through her talent as a cook and baker.
We were fortunate enough to have been visited by Margaret and varying family members several times over the years. Her knowledge of the early days at S&V helped to fill in some of our gaps about the origin of the company and the people who started it all!
When she passed away Jim, Sr. attended her wake in New Jersey. There in the room her daughter Mary had set up a table commemorating Margaret’s dedication to her time at Simpson & Vail - her favorite teapot, 2 cups and saucers, some scones and a box of S&V Ceylon tea.
We wanted to take the time today to tell you about Margaret, to share with you the story of how one woman made a difference to so many people. All of us here are thankful that we had the opportunity to get to know her and her family.