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Rev. Dr. Al Simmons

Rev. Dr. Albert Elliott Simmons joined the Church Triumphant on Sunday, January 29th, 2017. Funeral services for Dr. Simmons will be held on Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 at 11:00 AM with Dr. Glenn Gilstrap and Rev. Melana Scruggs officiating. The family of Dr. Simmons will receive friends at Fletcher-Day Funeral Home on Tuesday from 4:00 until 7:00 PM. Dr. Simmons was born at Fort Macpherson, Atlanta, GA, on September 9, 1927, son of Lt. Col. and Mrs. Albert E. Simmons, Sr. Dr. Simmons was educated in the public school systems of Florida, South Carolina, Puerto Rico, Georgia, and Virginia. He held graduate degrees from Ben Franklin School of Accounting, Washington, D. C.; King College, Bristol, TN, Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, VA; and McCormick Seminary, Chicago, IL. It was while he was at Union Theological Seminary that he met and married Mary Jean Ivey. He served two churches in Virginia and Georgia and the larger denomination as Executive Secretary of the Athens Presbytery. He came to Thomaston in November 1979 and served as pastor of First Presbyterian until he retired on June 30, 1994. Mary Jean directed the choirs and, at times, played the organ in the churches where Al served. While pastoring churches and serving as a church executive, he served in leadership positions in the various courts of the Presbyterian Church. He served in Ecumenical alliances, often in a leadership capacity. He helped start hospital chaplaincy programs where needed and also taught the Bible in a local private school in the Ben Hill area of Atlanta. As pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Thomaston, Dr. Simmons was an active member of the Ministerial Alliance and served as its President and chairman of the Empty Stocking Program for many years. Upon his retirement from First Presbyterian he was elected Pastor Emeritus of the congregation. Dr. Simmons ministered to people of all faiths when they were in need of comfort. Dr. Simmons was active in the community in civic clubs and was a supporter of educational opportunities and recreational and arts activities. He served on the local board seeking educational opportunities for children with special needs. He was the Commissioner for Little League Baseball in Gainesville, Georgia, as well as one of the organizers of the Gainesville Ballet Company, serving as its first President. He was a long-time member of the Chamber of Commerce and served as a board member. He was a member of Class Four of Leadership Upson, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Thomaston since 1980, and served as a member and President of the Recreation Commission. He was involved in all sports programs for our youth, especially programs for girls. He was a founding member and enthusiastic supporter of the Thomaston-Upson Arts Council and also served on a committee that successfully campaigned for the construction of the Thomaston-Upson Fine Arts Center. Many in Upson County became acquainted with Dr. Simmons and his growing family through the columns he wrote for The Thomaston Times, a task he enjoyed for 28 years. He wrote first for the religious page and, when he retired, his column was moved to the opinion page. Dr. Simmons was predeceased by his wife, Dr. Mary Jean Simmons. He is survived by two sons and one daughter: Albert E. “Bert” Simmons, Jr., (Melana) of Aurora, MO, Ann S. Browning of Birmingham, AL, and James C. Simmons (Barbara) of Chester Springs, PA; seven grandchildren, Jennifer McInnish and Jeannette Bohde, both of Birmingham, AL, Jordan Browning of Jeffersonville, IN, Alexandra Simmons Erwin of Atlanta, Rachel Simmons of Chester Springs, PA, and Erin Simmons and Shannon Simmons, both of Aurora, MO; and six great grandchildren Tripp and Mary Elliott McInnish, Gabrielle and Bennett Browning, and Grant and Nolan Bohde. He baptized all of his great-grandchildren. Dr. Simmons will be laid to rest in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Richmond, VA, beside his beloved wife, Dr. Mary Jean Simmons. In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the First Presbyterian Church of Thomaston, 403 Birdsong St., Thomaston, GA 30286.

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