PUNTA GORDA, Fla.
Michael Simmons, 77, of Punta Gorda, Florida, passed away from a brain hemorrhage Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, at Bayfront Health Hospital.
Born March 29, 1939, in Scottsburg, he was the son of Altas and Marion Dooley Simmons, both of whom preceded him in death. He married Sally Montgomery in 1973, but they later divorced.
Michael graduated from Seymour High School in 1957 and Indiana State College (now Indiana State University) in 1964. He began his multi-faceted career as a biology teacher at Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis and teaching data processing at Indiana Vocational Technical College. For 13 years, he held a variety of positions with IBM Corp., including systems engineer, marketing representative and instruction manager.
Between 1980 and 1995, other positions he held included executive vice president of American Fletcher National Bank in Indianapolis from 1980-84; president of Fidelity Systems Co. in Boston, Massachusetts, from 1984-88; (1988-90) executive vice president of Bank of America’s systems engineering department in San Fransisco, California, where he worked with a staff of 5,700 in 19 countries from 1988-90; group executive vice president of technology and operations for the Bank of Boston working with a staff of 3,800 from 1990-93; and president of M.S. Associates Inc. consulting firm in Winchester, Massachusetts, from 1993-95.
He 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. His honors include being named to “Who’s Who in Colleges & Universities” and “Who’s Who in Finance and Industry,” and Outstanding Young Man of America and receiving IBM Golden Circle Marketing Award.
He was named to the Seymour High School Hall of Fame and received an honorary doctorate from Marian University in 2010 and 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 stockcar 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 university’s 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 largesse. 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, he worked with various people who had damage to their property to obtain settlements five times the initial offer from their insurance companies. He also help 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 in Florida. A plaque honoring Michael is at the Laishley Park Marina in Punta Gorda.
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.
Survivors include his sisters, Margaret (Lloyd) Marnitz of Lexington, Kentucky, Dr. Juliana Simmons of Ellicott City, Maryland, Dr. Kathleen (Tom) Jones of Windsor, Colorado, and Mary Ann (Jess) Etchinson of Ogleville; a brother, James (Michele) Simmons of Garland, Texas; eight nephews and six nieces; and seven great-nephews and nine great-nieces.
Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother, John.
Tax-deductible memorial gifts may be sent to The Michael Simmons Charitable Foundation, c/o Kathleen Jones, Trustee, 601 Locust St., Windsor, CO 80550, which will ensure that Michael’s philanthropic commitments will continue.
A memorial mass and reception will be held at 10 a.m March 25 at Marian University at 3200 Cold Spring Road in Indianapolis.
Burial will take place in Seymour at Riverview Cemetery on Saturday, March 25 at 4 p.m.
The Nora Chapel of Leppert Mortuary is assisting with arrangements.
Friends may sign the guestbook or share memories at leppertmortuary.com.