Gary Simmons

Obituary of Gary Simmons

Gary Don Simmons, 89, peacefully passed away Tuesday, February 15, 2022, in Edmond, Oklahoma after an extended illness. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, February 25, 2022, in The Chapel at Griffin~Hillcrest with the Reverend Terry Tolbert officiating. Private interment to follow in Hillcrest Memorial Park. Gary was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma on November 30, 1932, to Brook Simmons and Laura Melinda Elizabeth (Sampley) Simmons. Gary grew up on a farm east of the city in the Springdale community. A graduate of Dickson High School, he began serving in the U.S. Army in 1953, where he was a radio operator with the 47th Armored Medical Battalion of the 1st Armored Division and was honorably discharged in 1955. He married Billie K. Craighead on Christmas Eve 1953 while on a weekend pass. After the Army, Gary worked full time as a field and lab technician at The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation while commuting nights for 3 years to earn his associate’s degree from Murray State College in Tishomingo. He went on to attend Oklahoma State University from 1958 through 1962 and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agronomy. In 1959, he rejoined the Noble Foundation as a soils specialist and farm planning team member until being promoted to director of the foundation’s agricultural division in 1965, where he was instrumental in growing and deploying the foundation’s demonstration teams to help farm and ranch cooperators across Oklahoma and north Texas. In 1971, he was named vice president and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1988. Gary was a successful farmer and rancher for 48 years. He jokingly said his efforts were recognized by the Southern Oklahoma Water Corporation when they erected twin water towers adjacent to the farm with the letters S-O-W-C painted on their side, identifying the Simmons Outstanding White Cattle herd. He served on the board of OSU’s Ag Leadership Program and was a U.S. delegate to China as part of America’s “People to People” agricultural exchange program. After retirement, Gary committed himself to researching and publishing the history of the Ardmore Army Air Field / Air Force Base and the B-17 and other aircrews who trained there to fly World War II bombing missions over Germany and those who fought and supplied the Cold War. Through this effort, he connected pilot and flight-crew families worldwide with their own military histories, inspiring a book and multiple monuments to their service. He served as volunteer, as well as an officer and board member, of the Military Memorial Museum and the Greater Southwest Historical Museum. He was a member of Trinity Baptist Church in Ardmore, where he faithfully served as a deacon for 60 years and a Sunday school teacher for more than 63 years. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother John C. Simmons, sister Tullie Helen Burk, and nephews Bob and John Burk. Gary is survived by his wife of 68 years, Billie, two sons Brook A. Simmons, Oklahoma City, and Brent J. Simmons (Ashley), Edmond; grandchildren Jack, Micah, Ruby, William, and Catherine; and several nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers, donations should be made in his name to the Ardmore Military Memorial Museum, 35 Sunset Dr. SW, Ardmore, OK 73401.
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Friday
25
February

Funeral Service

2:00 pm
Friday, February 25, 2022
The Chapel at Griffin~Hillcrest
1610 C St. SE
Ardmore, Oklahoma, United States
580-226-5556
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