01/12/07 — Simmons honored at WCC King event

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Simmons honored at WCC King event

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on January 12, 2007 1:54 PM

College officials and students celebrated Martin Luther King's life Thursday and honored a beloved security officer who died in April.

Capt. Clarence Simmons worked for the Wayne Community College 24 years after retiring from a previous 26 years in the Air Force. He knew the faculty, staff and students and most of their family members. Everybody called him "Simmons" because that's the way he answered the phone, "Simmons speaking."

His chief of security, Wayne Street, said Simmons was a dedicated employee who came to work even when he was sick or tired. He "always had a smile on his face."

But the 250 people who attended the Martin Luther King celebration in the Moffatt Auditorium and soul food that followed in the cafeteria especially missed him. He was the master cook during the event in years past and always cooked the turkeys.

That task fell to somebody else Thursday.

Simmons will be missed in many ways, because of the way he gave of himself, said Tara Humphries of the college.

"At Thanksgiving and Christmas he cooked turkeys and gave them away to the less fortunate," she said. "He never knew a stranger on campus. He knew not just us but our family members. He'd ask Jack Kannan about his daughter and me about my mama."

Kannan, who is director of the Foundation of Wayne Community College, said Simmons didn't have to wear his uniform to gain respect from the students.

"He went up to the kids and said, 'You know your mother didn't teach you to throw that trash on the floor.' He had a way about him, a uniqueness that you don't realize you have till they're gone."

The security department at the college raised money to create a scholarship fund, and before long, all the faculty and staff were involved. Then the students and members of the community got involved.

The fund has climbed to more than $3,000 in just a few months.

"This is the largest (memorial scholarship fund) I've gotten," Kannan said, adding that $1,500 of the total came from two faculty members.

Checks are still coming into the foundation office.

Simmons' widow, Jeanwas given a framed portrait of her husband by the college.