Today, January 16th, my best friend and kindred spirit embarked on his next journey…ending the happiest 27 years of my life. This is my attempt to pay tribute to the well lived life of an honorable man.
William L. (Bill) Simmons was born in Beaver, Pa., on Aug. 18, 1942 to the late Ralph and Bea Watson Simmons. When he was a toddler, they moved back home to the Bloomingdale, OH area where he resided his entire life.
Bill was a graduate of Wayne High School, the College of Steubenville, and Ohio University where he earned his degree in psychology. He was an educator and spent the majority of his career as a middle school guidance counselor at Buchanan Jr. High in Wintersville. Bill valued and maintained the friendships he formed with his fellow teachers and remained keenly interested in his former students…seldom forgetting a name or a face. After retirement, he spent several years as adult education coordinator at the Jefferson County JVS.
As much as he loved his work as a counselor, Bill equally loved nature and the outdoors. I was lucky to reap the benefits of both his beautiful flowers and bountiful vegetable gardening each year. His desire to be productive while spending time outdoors led to his decision to begin planting evergreen trees in the late 70’s as a “summer hobby”. He had no idea that his decision would result in a successful retail Christmas tree farm, Wayneridge Tree Farm, which he owned and operated from 1982 to 2010. Bill loved the Christmas season, and it was a great joy to him to provide reasonably priced trees and wonderful memories for hundreds of families as well as providing Christmas employment for local teens.
Over the years, Bill owned many varieties of animals including a Tennessee Walker and a hackney pony. He once said he would never live long enough to own every breed of dog he would like to. He was especially fond of beagles and was a longtime member of the Steubenville Beagle Club where he formed lifetime friendships and spent many happy hours listening to his hounds tracking through the brush and over the hills.
When Bill and I married, he took on many new roles in addition to husband….including son-in-law and stepfather, but nothing brought him more joy than, a few years later, becoming Noah’s “Papa”. It was love at first sight for the guy who thought he never wanted to be a grandpa.
Bill had a quiet and unique sense of humor obvious to those of us who knew him well. He made me laugh every day. He was one of the hardest workers I’ve ever known, but always made time for us to have fun. He was generous to a fault, yet frugal with himself. He was a man of his word and often trusted others with the promise of a handshake. Bill was the guy in the back of the room never missing a beat. He had immense knowledge and strong opinions, but was humble and secure enough to simply listen and not interject his opinion. He would have, without a doubt, objected to my rather lengthy obituary. Bill was kind, compassionate, gentle, and strong. He believed in and lived out the Democratic ideals of equality, fairness, and inclusion. He handled his diagnosis, surgeries, and treatment with grace, optimism, and perseverance.
Those of us left to mourn our loss, but also celebrate Bill’s life, will always remember the strength of his character, the kindness in his smile, and the wisdom of his words. Survivors include myself, Pam Simmons; stepdaughter, Heather (Ray) Brown of Nc.; beloved grandson, Noah Miller of Nc.; stepson, Clint Trushel of Wintersville; aunts Dorothy Simmons and Alice Moore; numerous cousins including Judy Simmons Galbraith, Jack Watson, and Don Moore; brother-in-law Bill (Suzan) Logsdon; sister-in-law Alyce (Phil) Danielson; sister-in-law, Karen Hayes.
Thank you to everyone who reached out to us with concern and kindness over the years. Special thanks to Tonnie and the Valley Hospice team, to my neighbors and my sister, Karen, who made it possible for me to keep Bill at home, and to Bill’s friends….Branko, Ja, and Nick who never forgot him and always stayed in touch.
Honoring Bill’s wishes, there will be no visitation. Final arrangements will be in the care of Shorac Funeral Home, Wintersville. For anyone wishing to honor Bill’s memory, please consider a donation to St. Jude or a charity of your choice, or simply perform an anonymous kind deed as he so often did.
“One more day, one more time
One more sunset, maybe I’d be satisfied
But then again, I know what it would do
Leave me wishing still for one more day with you.”