William D. Simmons

Published 12:01 am Thursday, January 1, 2015

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Sept. 22, 1925 – Dec. 28, 2014

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NATCHEZ — Services for William D. “Billy” Simmons, 89, of Natchez, who died Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, at Natchez Regional Medical Center, will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church of Natchez with the Rev. Doug Broome officiating.1:1WilliamDSimmons obitpic

Burial will follow at the Natchez City Cemetery under the direction of Laird Funeral Home.

Visitation will be from 9:30 a.m. until service time Saturday at the church.

Mr. Simmons was born Sept. 22, 1925, in Natchez, the son of Paul Reed Simmons and Molly Dorsey Simmons.

He attended the Natchez public schools and graduated with the Natchez High School class of 1943. He was a Boy Scout and a newspaper boy for the Natchez Democrat.

Billy was a graduate of the U.S. Navy flight training curriculum in Pensacola, Fla., and was designated Naval Aviator, Feb. 19, 1946. He served with the Naval Reserve Squadron VF-823 based at the Naval Air Station in New Orleans. While attached to this unit, he flew the Chance-Vought F4U Corsair, the Douglas AD Fighter Bomber and the McDonald Banshee F2H fighter jet. After 11 years of service with the Navy Reserve, he retired with the permanent rank of lieutenant.

As a graduate of the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Okla., Simmons held a Federal Aviation Agency aircraft and engine mechanics license. He was a commercial pilot with single and multi-engine aircraft ratings with instrument capabilities. He earned his FAA flight instructor certificate in September 1946, and was designated a private and commercial pilot examiner for the Federal Aviation Agency in 1956. In October 1972, he was named accident prevention counselor by the FAA General Aviation Safety Office in Jackson. Billy retired May 1989, as the director of aviation for the City of Natchez and Adams County, having served 40 years at the Natchez-Adams County Airport. He was past president of the Southeastern Airport Managers Association which encompasses 11 Southeastern states.

Simmons was a member of the First Baptist Church, having been baptized by the late Rev. W.A. Sullivan, April 11, 1937. He was married at First Baptist Church to his wife of 56 years, Helen Ruth Smith Simmons, in 1947. He served as a deacon at First Baptist Church and was the leader of the adult Co-ed Sunday school class.

Active in civic affairs, Billy was the past president of the Washington Kiwanis Club, now the Trace City Club and the past president of the Natchez Kiwanis Club. Until this time, no other person had held the office of president of both of these clubs. Other memberships included the Natchez Retiree Association, Board of Directors of the American Red Cross, Dixie Riding Club and he was a Mason, being a member of the Harmony Lodge Number One in Natchez.

A devoted husband and father, Billy taught his children and wife how to fly. His love for aviation never faded and would gaze into the sky every moment a plane flew overhead. He shared his love for the farm, with horses and cows, with his beloved wife, Helen, who he would often pick flowers for from their flowering bushes or fresh vegetables from the garden. Their life was filled with love and deep respect for each other and their community of Natchez and church. He was an inspiration to all he met, delivering flowers and goodies to friends around town in his convertible with a bright smile and friendly words of encouragement.

Billy was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers, Paul Reed Simmons Jr. and Allen Breinard Simmons; one son, Glenn William Simmons; and his wife.

He was also preceded in death by his high school sweetheart, Mary Rogers Davis Jones.

Survivors include one sister, Marion Kaiser of Baton Rouge; his son, Wayne Simmons and wife, Shellie, and their two sons, Eric Simmons and Ryan Simmons and wife, Katrina Silvia, and theirchildren, Austin Silvia and Alanna Simmons, all of Jacksonville, Fla.; one daughter-in-law, Charlotte Simmons of Marietta, Ga., and her three children, Stirling Simmons and wife, Diana, and their son, Bennett Simmons, Alexander Simmons and wife, Deena, and their two children, Elijah Simmons and Micah Simmons and Eleanor Simmons, all of Marietta, and his son, Don Simmons, of Marietta; his wife’s sister, Jacquetta Whisner and her daughters, Lynn Yancey and family and Carol Clemons and family, all of Shreveport, La.

Memorials may be made to the First Baptist Church of Natchez or the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, 1750 Radford Blvd., Suite B, NAS Pensacola, FL 32508.

Pallbearers will be Wil Nolan, Chuck Gilbert, Lynwood Easterling, Kim Fuller, Donald Estes and Clint Pomeroy.

Online condolences may be sent to lairdfh.com.