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Vollis Simpson dies, leaves whirligig legacy (+video)

Vollis Simpson dies: An unusual folk artist, Vollis Simpson created whimsical, wind-powered whirligigs out of junk.

Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park
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Vollis Simpson, a self-taught North Carolina artist famed for his whimsical, wind-powered whirligigs, has died. He was 94.

Beth Liles of Joyner's Funeral Home confirmed the death Saturday. Simpson's wife, Jean Simpson, was quoted by the Wilson Daily Times  as saying that her husband died Friday in his sleep at his home in the town of Lucama.

Simpson became known for his whirligigs, wind-driven creations that stand as high as 50 feet and are constructed from recycled parts including motor fans and cotton spindles.

He built the contraptions on land near his machine shop in Lucama, about 35 miles east of Raleigh. More than 30 of them were on display there until last year, when an effort to restore them began.

 

His whirligigs were also placed throughout downtown Wilson, where the Whirligig Festival is held each November in his honor.

 In 2010, Simpson decided to sell more than 30 of his large whirligigs and more than 50 small-scale pieces to create the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, which will be located on Goldsboro Street.

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