White Sands Missile Range Hall of Fame

Jean Simpkins
Real Estate Specialist
Served 1952 – 1984
Inducted 2023

Simpkins worked at White Sands from 1952 until her retirement in 1984. She is being recognized for her outstanding work as the missile range’s real estate specialist where she managed the complicated world of land leases, purchases, payments, and court judgements. She was the authorizing officer for all payments due land owners for land use, damage claims and evacuations.  She initiated and justified real estate acquisition actions for congressional approval, assisted in negotiations with the property owners and worked directly with the Rancher’s Committee.  She was responsible for budgeting for on-and-off range payments under the leases, condemnations, restorations, permits and evacuations in the many real estate arenas. She had a lot of irons in the fire.

While being incredibly efficient and inventive in accomplishing these tasks, she was often praised for her diplomacy in dealing with land owners. She felt ranchers deserved to be treated with respect and she made sure other officials at White Sands followed her example. Her nomination package states that her efforts helped create a much more positive relationship with White Sands ranchers after years of combative interactions with the Army Corps of Engineers.

The map she created to help explain the complicated land ownership at White Sands has been recreated by the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum and is the introduction to their exhibit “Home on the Range: From Ranches to Rockets.” The exhibit details how ranch lands became a state-of-the-art technology testing facility because of World War II.

Simpkins died in May 2023.