Sammye and Ken Simpler Family: Giving Back is a Family Affair
For the Simpler family, giving back to their community has always been a priority. Growing up, Sammye learned the importance of helping others from her grandfather, who founded Publix, a Florida-based company that has incorporated a giving culture within the communities that they serve for more than 90 years.
Sammye instilled those same values into her children, Lea Richardson and Clay Simpler, who also grew up working in the family business and seeing first-hand the impact that philanthropy can have on a community. The first Publix on the Emerald Coast was in Destin, Florida. They remember driving over to Destin and loading up coolers full of groceries because that was the closest location to them at the time.
Eventually, stores began expanding into Crestview, Fort Walton Beach and Navarre, until Clay opened the first location in Pensacola on 9th Avenue in November 2009. As the company continued to grow, so did the philanthropic impact on the surrounding communities.
“We are firm believers in giving back, especially to the community in which we were raised,” Lea said. “The Pensacola community is a very giving and caring community. Our family wants to be a bigger part of that community. Our kids are now catching on, and we love to see it. It’s a blessing that we are fortunate to give back.”
Sammye grew up in Texas and moved to Pensacola to attend Pensacola State College, formerly Pensacola Junior College. She loved Pensacola and knew she wanted to settle and eventually raise a family here. Ken was born in Andalusia, Alabama, and raised in Pensacola. He was a general contractor and owned Crenshaw Construction. The couple has been married nearly 45 years now.
Recently, Sammye had a health scare, and the family entrusted Baptist as the place to receive care. “Our entire family was worried,” Clay said. “She was examined in the ER and later admitted to the hospital. We were very impressed with the thorough care she received. The entire team was attentive and caring. She was discharged with a working diagnosis, and follow-up appointments with specialists were scheduled. My mom is doing much better now, thanks to the wonderful team at Baptist.”
Now, the Simpler family is giving back to the community again by making a $250,000 gift to the Baptist Health Care Foundation. The Foundation has named Baptist Hospital’s women’s imaging center in honor of their transformational gift.
“We love living in the Pensacola community, and we recognize the importance of having a state-of-the-art facility with excellent staff and clinicians,” Ken said. “We’ve seen the commitment that Baptist has made to our great city. We wanted to give back to Pensacola by supporting this incredible addition.”
The women’s imaging center at the new Baptist Hospital campus features the latest technology including a new CT scanner for cancer and cardiac imaging; a new 3T MRI to allow for quicker scans; new digital 3D mammography machines for biopsies; and other equipment, technology and features to provide a safe and healing environment for its patients.
“Our family is excited to have such an advanced facility with many specialties available,” Sammye said. “We’ve had health issues arise over the years, and getting an appointment with a specialist can
sometimes be difficult. The addition of this facility and having more clinicians will serve our community extremely well.”
The Simpler family is very tight-knit, and they often spend time together as a family, including their close friends, whom they view as extended family. They love to travel and enjoy spending time at their beach house on Pensacola Beach.
“We hope that our family will be remembered as having cared greatly for others and lived our lives with a servant’s heart,” Lea said.