Chow Town

Our barbecue family loses a passionate friend: KC Rib Doctor Guy Simpson

Guy Simpson, aka the KC Rib Doctor, was a founding member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society. He died recently at age 73.
Guy Simpson, aka the KC Rib Doctor, was a founding member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society. He died recently at age 73. The Kansas City Star

KC barbecue has lost a barbecue ambassador, prize-winning pitmaster and all-around great guy.

KC Rib Doctor Guy Simpson, 73, died unexpectedly March 23 but he will not be forgotten. I met Guy during reporting for a 1995 Star Magazine profile on the Kansas City Barbeque Society. I continued to pop by Guy’s tent at the Great Lenexa BBQ Battle, introducing him to my husband’s Brazilian-style barbecue.

Simpson — better known as the KC Rib Doctor — was clowning around with Baron of Barbecue Paul Kirk. It was my introduction to the zaniness and colorful characters that created the KCBS and cemented our city as the arbiter of taste and competition regulations.

Simpson was a founding member of the KCBS and served on its board for nearly two decades. But as Guy told it, his foray into a lifelong passion was accidental.

An excerpt from the 1995 story:

“Let’s just say it’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on!” says Guy Simpson, an insurance agent and KCBS vice president who, by his count, is “just one bad rib away from being president.”

Simpson had never cooked a thing in his life when he went to his first barbecue cook-off and won it.

“It’s been all downhill from here,” he says, flashing a Cheshire cat grin.

“Here’s my $50,000 hat, he says, removing a felt fedora from his head to show off his dozens of pins that represent the money he has invested in attending barbecue competitions.

To support their weekend outings, many barbecue regulars develop sauces, rubs, cookbooks, how-to videos and other barbecue-related products to help defray the cost of competition. For example, Simpson sells a rib rub he mixed up in his son’s plastic wading pool.

“He was never the star. He was always the supporting cast, and I think that was by his own design,” says Carolyn Wells, the executive director of the KC Barbeque Society. “He was always there behind the scenes, helping everybody and furthering the cause of barbecue. He will be sorely missed, but I’m glad David (one of Simpson’s sons) plans to carry on (the team).”

Following a celebration of Simpson’s life on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Community Covenant Church in Lenexa, there will be barbecue cooked by Kirk and Simpson’s many barbecue buddies.

RIP KC Rib Doctor.