Michael Simmons, 77, of Punta Gorda, Florida, died from a brain hemorrhage Tuesday, February 7, 2017, at Bayfront Health Hospital.
Born on March 29th, 1939, in Scottsburg, Indiana, he was the son of Altas and Marion Dooley Simmons. He married Sally Montgomery in 1973, but later divorced. He is survived by four sisters, Margaret (Lloyd) Marnitz of Lexington, Kentucky, Dr. Juliana Simmons of Ellicott City, Maryland, Dr. Kathleen (Tom) Jones of Windsor, Colorado, Mary Ann (Jess) Etchinson of Ogleville, Indiana; and one brother, James (Michele) Simmons of Garland, Texas. He had eight nephews, six nieces, seven great-nephews and nine great-nieces.
He was preceded in death by one brother, John, and both of his parents.
Michael graduated from Seymour High School in 1957 and Indiana State College (now University) in 1964. He began his multi-faceted career as a biology teacher at Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis and taught data processing at Indiana Vocational Technical College. For 13 years, Michael held a variety of positions with IBM Corporation, including systems engineer, marketing representative, and instruction manager. Between1980 and 1995, other positions he held included: Executive Vice President of American Fletcher National Bank in Indianapolis (’80-’84); President of Fidelity Systems Company in Boston, Massachusetts (’84-’88)’ Executive VP of Bank of America’s Systems Engineering Department in San Francisco, California (’88 – ’90), where he worked with a staff of 5,700 in nineteen countries; Group Executive VP of Technology and Operations for the Bank of Boston (’90-’93), working with a staff of 3,800; President of M.S. Associates, Inc. consulting firm in Winchester, Massachusetts (’93-’95). Michael finished his business career as president of Security Capital Group, Inc., in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Michael loved people and served on many boards where he was able to make connections. Through networking he learned and shared many ideas. He was involved in community projects wherever he happened to be living. Honors he received included: Who’s Who in Colleges and Universities, Outstanding Young Man of America, IBM Golden Circle Marketing Award and Who’s Who in Finance and Industry. He is in his high school’s hall of fame and received an honorary PhD from Marian University (2010) as well as a Doctor of Humane Letters from Indiana State University. He jokingly said, “Now you can call me Dr. Dr. Simmons!”
His passion for cars started at an early age and continued until his death. He liked to buy and refurbish autos that were popular during key times of his life. He loved to watch NASCAR and entered/drove some of his own cars in local stock car races.
One legacy that he was very proud of is the Sycamore Tricycle Derby at Indiana State University. Michael and a few of his friends came up with the idea of the race to keep students from leaving campus during Homecoming weekend. It was started in 1963 and continues today on a beautiful track in front of the Michael Simmons Student Activities Center; a large, planned gift by him to the ISU Foundation’s March On! Campaign established a student team activity endowment with the goal of fostering leadership, communication and teamwork.
Marian University in Indianapolis, where four of Michael’s relatives graduated, has been the recipient of some of his largess. His donations have helped upgrade the university’s computer system, added to his mother’s scholarship fund and helped build the Simmons Family Room in the Student Center.
No matter where Michael went, he always wanted to “fix” things, whether it be cars, institutions, corporations, towns or people.
When Hurricane Charlie devastated Punta Gorda, Michael worked with various people who had damage to their property to obtain settlements five times the initial offer from their insurance companies. He also helped fund construction of aluminum ramps for the Charlotte Harbor Regatta so disabled athletes had access to the docks and could participate in the World Disabled Sailing Paralympic Championships (Florida). A plaque honoring Michael is at the Laishley Park Marina.
Michael was truly a renaissance man and will be sorely missed.
He donated 25 percent of his income to those in need for education, housing and health services. In lieu of flowers, tax-deductible memorial gifts can be sent to The Michael Simmons Charitable Foundation, c/o Kathleen Jones, Trustee, 601 Locust St., Windsor, Colorado 80550, which will ensure that Michael’s philanthropic commitments will continue.
A Memorial Mass and Reception will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 25, 2017, at Marian University, 3200 Cold Spring Road, Indianapolis. Burial will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at Riverview Cemetery in Seymour, Indiana.
Leppert Mortuary, Nora Chapel are assisting with arrangements.
Visit www.leppertmortuary.com to share a personal memory of Michael.