Sam Simmons, age 92, departed this life on October 26, 2023, trusting in the promise of Jesus he held so dear: "I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." Today, we know Sam is more alive than he has ever been.
James Samuel Simmons was born to George Whitfield and Mary Hutchins Simmons in Hinds County, near Utica, Mississippi, on November 29,1930. He grew up on the farm where he was born and completed high school ahead of schedule at the Utica Consolidated School. Sam put his trust in Jesus Christ on August 15, 1940, and his beloved church community became the center of his early life. An accomplished student and natural leader, Sam made the most of his time at Mississippi State College, where he was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, and Blue Key. He was appointed editor of the 1950 Reveille, President of the 1951 Student Body, and President of his senior class. Sam went on to serve in the Air Force during the Korean War, then earned his Juris Doctor degree at Jackson School of Law in 1962.
In 1950, Sam married the love of his life, the radiant Peggy Therrell of Florence, Mississippi. At the time of her death, they had been married over 69 years. Family was Sam’s dearest priority, second only to his relationship with Jesus. Sam and Peggy’s marriage was filled with as much laughter as it was sacrifice. Their rich union was made all the richer by their six children.
Sam’s career with IBM took the Simmons family all around the Southeast, and Sam remained deeply invested in the local church wherever he lived. He was ordained as a deacon at Utica Baptist Church, then served as a deacon at the First Baptist Churches of Montgomery, AL; New Orleans, LA; Jackson, MS; and Florence, MS. A lover of God’s Word and God’s people, Sam traveled to India and Eastern Europe to share the Good News of Jesus and taught Sunday School for fifty faithful years. After retiring from IBM in 1991, he picked up a part-time law career. For over twenty years, he joyfully provided pro bono law services to friends and neighbors in his community.
Sam is finishing his race behind his wife Peggy, his parents George and Mary, his brothers Whit and Harold, his sister Myrtle McGaha, his daughter-in-law Marian Phillips Simmons, and his great-grandson and namesake Samuel Lazarus Hall. He is survived by his son Dr. Sam Simmons, Jr. (Trish) of Ridgeland, MS; son Ben Simmons (Cindy) of Dallas, TX; daughter Mary Ruth Simmons Wolf (Jay) of Montgomery, AL; daughter Susie Simmons Jehn (Mark) of Menasha, WI; son Ken Simmons of Dallas, TX; and son Ed Simmons (Julia) of Ridgeland, MS.
Sam deeply delighted in his grandkids, who know him as “Peeps.” His grandchildren are Jason Wolf and his wife Katherine; Tim Simmons and his wife Jessie; Sarah Wolf Sizemore and her husband Jeremiah; Johnny Simmons; Natalie Jehn Morrissey and her husband Elijah; Benji Simmons and his wife Ana; Mary Austin Wolf Hall and her husband Andrew; Shannon Jehn Bannoura and her husband Daniel; William Simmons; Alex Wolf and her husband Henry Hershey; Hillary Simmons; Will Simmons and his wife Carissa; Zack Simmons; Seth Simmons and his wife Rachel; and Suci Simmons. His highly productive family tree has grown 17 great-grandchildren and counting. He will also be deeply missed by a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and neighbors.
Sam will be remembered for his warm kindness, self-deprecating humor, vivid storytelling, tireless hospitality, and no-strings-attached generosity. Those who knew him were able to know Jesus better.
Sam’s celebration of life service will be held at First Baptist Church in Florence, MS, on Wednesday, November 1, 2023. Visitation will begin at 1:30 PM followed by a service at 3:00 PM. He will be laid to rest beside Peggy in Florence City Cemetery at a private service prior to his celebration of life. In lieu of flowers, you can honor Sam’s legacy of generosity and Christian service by donating to First Baptist Church Florence’s Local Mission Fund.