Virgnia was the daughter of nutritionist John Barlow Youmans who served in the office of the U.S. Surgeon General and was later dean of Vanderbilt University's medical school. She attended Wellesley College and Vanderbilt's school of nursing. She married U.S. Navy Reserve Lieutenant Joe Simpson at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Nashville on March 25, 1944.
Simpson was heavily involved with the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Birmingham Museum of Art and was one of the founders of the Birmingham Ballet. She invited Boston Ballet choreographer Alfonso Figueroa to lead a summer seminar, and later invited him to direct the company.
The Simpsons resided in the former Theodore Swann residence on Redmont Road, where they kept separate bedrooms. For an anniversary present, Joe Simpson restored the Rosemount plantation house in Greene County in 1958.
Her son, James II, known as "Popsie", was initially charged with the murder. There was testimony to the effect that he had offered large sums for his mother's death, but those witnesses were discredited in preliminary hearings and the charges were dropped. The style of the murder caused some to conclude that it had been carried out by a professional killer.