LITTLE ROCK — Bill Simmons, 71, beloved family man of God, went to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Monday. He died at home.
He was preceded in death by his parents, a brother Jerry, and his wife, Theodosia Jane Simmons.
He is survived by his daughter, Theodosia Jane “Teddi” Cole of Little Rock and her husband, Troy; a son, William Tobias “Toby” Simmons of Little Rock and his wife, Penny; a brother, Toby Ray Simmons and his wife, Carolyn, of Pine Bluff; six grandchildren, one great-grandchild and another great-grandchild on the way.
He was born Sept. 23, 1941, in North Little Rock, the son of William Foster Simmons and Pauline Elizabeth Hollenberger Simmons.
He started in the news business while still in high school in 1958 as a copy boy at the Arkansas Gazette, where he later became sportswriter. He took a job with the Little Rock bureau of the Associated Press in 1962, the same year he and Jane were married. After a few years with the AP in Little Rock, they moved to Detroit where he helped cover the race riots in 1967-68; soon after, they returned to the Little Rock AP, where he became the capitol correspondent covering Arkansas politics. He was dubbed the “Dean of the Capitol Press Corps” for many years before becoming the AP’s Chief of Bureau in 1990.
He retired from the AP in 1996 after 34 years of service. He then became the political editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 1997 where he worked until he died. Earlier this year he received the distinguished “Golden 50 Service Award” from the Arkansas Press Association.
He came from humble roots, and always remained humble. He was described as the consummate newsman, always tough but always fair. He challenged many public officials; while not everyone liked what he wrote, he was well respected by those he covered.
He was tenacious and dogged in his work, and was loyal and generous to those around him. One of his private ministries was equipping pastors with hundreds of good books to encourage them in their faith and theology. He was a sharp communicator who had and taught a big view of God. He was a blessing to many.
His devotion to God was followed closely by his devotion to his wife and family. Thankful and proud that Jane was his best friend, he took great care of her in her declining years. She remained the love of his life.
He loved poetry, bad puns and being a wordsmith. Even though he never received a college degree he was described by his daughter as “the smartest man I ever knew.”
A visitation will be held at Ruebel Funeral Home, 6313 W. Markham St. on Thursday, November 1, 2012 from 4-6 p.m. A funeral service will be held at The Bible Church of Little Rock on Friday, November 2, 2012 at 10 a.m., officiated by Pastor Tim Senn. Interment will follow at Pinecrest Memorial Park. Memorials may be made to The Bible Church of Little Rock, 19111 Cantrell Rd., Little Rock, AR 72223. Arrangements by Ruebel Funeral Home, www.ruebelfuneralhome.com.