Gregory D. Simmons Sr., 51, official of city public works, adoptive father

April 24, 2002|By Stephanie Desmon | Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF

Gregory D. Simmons Sr., a city public works official who was moved to adopt six special-needs children after his own went off to college, died of a heart attack Friday at Maryland General Hospital. He was 51.

Mr. Simmons, a Baltimore native and 1968 graduate of City College, earned an associate's degree from the Baltimore College of Commerce in 1970. He began his career as a junior accountant at Commercial Credit/American Health and Life Insurance Co. before he was hired by the city in 1987.

As a finance officer in the Bureau of Solid Waste, one of his tasks was ensuring it was run on a cost-effective basis. "I set my goals out, and when it came to the fiscal sector, Greg always came through," said his boss, Joseph A. Kolodziejski.

Mr. Simmons and his wife of more than 30 years, the former Betty Lewis, had two children, Nicole and Gregory Jr. When they graduated from high school, the couple began adopting children.

He came up with the idea after seeing a television program about adoption called Tuesday's Child. They adopted their first child in 1991 and their last - two sisters - in 2000. All six of the adopted children are girls and younger than age 14.

"He never cared about himself. He only cared about doing for people," said his mother, Del. Ruth M. Kirk, a Baltimore Democrat.

Mr. Simmons lived in the same house for the past 30 years and, relatives said, he would mow the lawns, trim the hedges and clean up the trash for five of his neighbors, never asking for anything in return.

He was a member of the Baltimore City Auxiliary Fire Force from 1975 to 1989. After he retired, he would listen to his scanner, get dressed and follow the engines to nearby fires. Sometimes he would prepare a meal and take it to the firehouse so the firefighters could eat when they returned.

He loved sports and marching bands. He took his children and grandchildren to Walt Disney World every year.

Mr. Simmons was raised and was active for many years at Morning Star Baptist Church, where he was president of its Junior and Young Adult Ushers and sang in the Young Adult Choir.

He joined Union Baptist Church in 1979 and was a member of its Deacon Board and Senior Choir. He played a major role in the church's coffeehouse ministry.

Services will be held at Union Baptist today, starting with a wake at 5:30 p.m.

In addition to his wife and mother, Mr. Simmons is survived by seven daughters, Nicole Muhammad of Baltimore, and Bria, Andrea, Ebony, Robin, Alicia and Catherine Simmons, all at home; his son, Gregory, of Baltimore; three brothers, George Joseph Kirk and Arthur Kirk III, both of Baltimore, and Ernest Butts III of Upper Marlboro; four sisters, Karen K. Obayanju of Gahanna, Ohio, and Aline Kirk, Judy Price and Vanessa Dow, all of Baltimore; his stepfather, Arthur F. Kirk of Baltimore; his stepmother, Peggy Butts of Upper Marlboro; and five grandchildren.

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