Ceremony honors Simmons
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 14, 2004
NATCHEZ &045; At a ceremony Saturday at Natchez-Adams County Airport, about 60 family members, friends and fellow aviators gathered as officials honored retired airport manager Billy Simmons by dedicating the facility’s terminal building in his name.
Along with his wife Helen, Simmons guided the airport through its evolution from 1949 until 1989.
&uot;It was a real pleasure for me to watch it develop from a surplus airfield to the modern airport it is today,&uot; Simmons said.
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Current Director of Aviation Clint Pomeroy started as an operations manager under Simmons in 1976 and succeeded him after his retirement.
&uot;He was a great mentor. He taught me a lot, and taught a lot of people how to fly, too,&uot; Pomeroy said.
Simmons, a former Naval aviator, flight instructor and designated pilot examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration, was a leader in area aviation circles.
&uot;He gave me my check ride in 1965, and gave my mother her check ride before that,&uot; Airport Commissioner Cappie Stahlman said.
Stahlman said Simmons’ vision for the airport also helped attract industry and economic growth to the area.
&uot;A lot of people fly for recreation, but there were a lot of business flights here over the years, too,&uot; Stahlman said.
Simmons’ sister-in-law, Jacquetta Whisner, flew in from Shreveport to attend the ceremony. Whisner said Simmons encouraged his entire family to fly.
&uot;He taught me how to fly.
He taught his wife and their three sons, and my daughter and her husband.
Everybody else was flying, so I learned how, too,&uot; Whisner said.
Helen Simmons joined her husband at the airport as an administrative assistant, serving on a volunteer basis for 15 years before she was hired in that capacity in 1964.
She died in February.
Airport officials formally re-named the terminal Simmons Terminal Building.