Sister Hilary Simpson, longtime Dominican High School band director, dies at 78 _lowres

Sister Mary Hilary Simpson, O.P.

Sister Mary Hilary Simpson, O.P., director of the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ band program and a longtime band director at St. Mary’s Dominican High School, died Monday at North Oaks Medical Center in Hammond. She was 78.

Simpson, who helped foster a love of music in thousands of young people during her career, was born in New Orleans and graduated from Dominican High. She received a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University and a master’s degree from LSU.

She entered the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of St. Mary, now known as the Dominican Sisters of Peace, in 1955.

From 1966 to 1969, Simpson worked as an itinerant music teacher in archdiocesan schools in New Orleans. She became Dominican’s band director in 1969, holding the position until the late 1980s.

In 1971, she became the archdiocese’s band director and held that position until her death. Simultaneously, she also led music education efforts for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.

“She was very fun-loving,” said Sister Angeline Magro, a fellow Dominican nun, who said Simpson was a well-respected trumpet player who often would pick up her horn and play with her students.

Survivors include two nieces, Colleen Charles and Kelly Hebert; a nephew, Siguard Simpson IV; and grandnieces and grandnephews.

Services will be 9:30 a.m. Monday at the Rosaryville Spirit Life Center, 39003 Rosaryville Road, in Ponchatoula. Archbishop Gregory Aymond will preside. Visitation at the Spirit Life Center will begin at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, with a prayer service at 7 p.m., and again at 8 a.m. Monday.

Burial will be in the Dominican Sisters of Peace cemetery in Rosaryville.

Harry McKneely & Son Funeral Home in Hammond is in charge of arrangements.