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William (Bill) R. Simmons, age 93, of North Branch, passed away Saturday, May 4, 2019 after a brief illness. Bill was born September 19, 1925 in North Branch on land originally settled in 1855 by his great grandfather, George Simmons, which Bill farmed with his brother John (Jack) Simmons. Although he started his education in a one-room schoolhouse, Bill was a graduate of Michigan State University, completing the Agriculture Short Course and, over years, he continued to work with the MSU Extension program and others in agricultural research. In the mid-1960’s, Bill and Jack were featured on the cover of “Successful Farmer” for their innovative practices.
Bill married Patricia McGuire in North Branch in 1952. They raised a family on the Simmons farm. He was committed to community service and was on the board of the Lapeer County Soil Conservation District, the Lapeer County Planning Commission, and the Lapeer County Land Bank. He also was a lifelong member of the First United Methodist Church in North Branch, where he ushered, taught Sunday school and served for many years on the pastor parish relations committee. Bill was an Eagle Scout and enjoyed the outdoors. He was a wily hunter and received the “oldest hunter” award at the North Branch Buck Pole well into his eighties, including one award at age (89/90).
Bill was known for his quick wit and wry sense of humor. He was keen observer of people and nature, intellectually curious, and could fix just about anything. He always loved a good chat. The following words from the headstone of his great grandfather offer an apt tribute to Bill’s own life;
“He fell a husband true; A father calm and gentle; A neighbor kind and obliging; A Christian meek and humble; Earth has lost an honest son; Heaven has gained a treasure.”
Bill survived by his wife, Patricia (McGuire) Simmons and daughters Stephanie Simmons (Steve Thomson) of Lapeer, Phyllis (Julian) Adams of Ann Arbor, Deborah (Bill) Smith of Lapeer, Lori Forbes of Brookfield, Wi., and Ellen (Tim) Harmon of North Branch, 8 grand children (Ron Wilson, Greg Mercer, Ian Donaldson, Andrea Smith, Justin and Jonathan Forbes, Lindsey (Harmon) Holcomb and Nathan Harmon, as well as 5 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Elizabeth (Stacy) Simmons, his brother Jack and Joan Laur and granddaughter Emily Smith.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
A memorial Service will be held at the North Branch First United Methodist Church on Saturday May 25, 2019 at 11:00 am, followed by light refreshments. Rev. Ron Hutchinson and Rev Roger Gedke will officiate.
You are welcome to share an online condolence at www.blackburnchapel.com
Arrangements entrusted to Blackburn Chapel-Martin Funeral Home