John Simmons Jr., 69, CPA, college lacrosse player

April 21, 2003|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

John W. Simmons Jr., a lacrosse standout at the University of Maryland who for 35 years was a private certified public accountant, died Tuesday at his Annapolis home from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 69.

Born in Annapolis, Mr. Simmons attended public schools there and graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1956 with a degree in accounting. While there, he was a starting defenseman for four years on the university's lacrosse team.

He played in the 1955 and 1956 seasons when the lacrosse team won 23 consecutive games and was national champion. He was the recipient of the prestigious William C. Schmeisser Memorial Trophy and was viewed as one of the best defensive players in the college ranks in 1956.

In 1985, he was inducted into the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

"He lived lacrosse his entire life," said Janice Dawson Simmons, his wife of 22 years. "He got so much from the sport and gave a lot back."

After graduating from college, Mr. Simmons was drafted into the Army and served in Hawaii. After military service, he worked for an accounting firm in Washington, and from 1965 to 1970 he was comptroller for Anne Arundel County government.

From 1970 until his retirement in 2001, he owned private certified public accountant firms in Annapolis. He retired from Toal, Ranes, Davis and Simmons LLP in Annapolis.

Until he became sick, Mr. Simmons was a runner and tennis player. He also loved fishing and crabbing, tending to his vegetable garden and reading a good book.

Larry Shubnell of Annapolis, a close friend for 40 years, said Mr. Simmons "was rather John Wayne-like ... quiet but tough. And that toughness enabled him to deal with his disease with so much courage."

Mr. Simmons was a member of the "M" Club and Annapolitan Club. Mr. Simmons also coached youth lacrosse in the Annapolis area.

A memorial service was held Saturday at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis.

In addition to his wife, survivors include two sons, John W. Simmons III of West River and Jack Dawson Gardiner of Annapolis; three daughters, Dawn Simmons Gilliam, Mary Beth Simmons and Alison Gardiner, all of Annapolis; two brothers, Leslie Simmons of Arnold and Donald Simmons of Canandaigua, N.Y.; six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. A marriage to Shirley Bachman Simmons ended in divorce in the early 1980s.

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