Dr. John S. Simmons

April 27, 1931February 17, 2013

Dr. John S. Simmons 1931 - 2013

Dr. John S. Simmons, Professor of English Education and Reading at Florida State University for 40 years, and an internationally acclaimed member of the English Education community, died on Feb. 17, 2013.

Funeral services for Dr. Simmons will be held Friday, March 1, at 4 p.m., at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church at 2015 Fleischmann Road, Tallahassee, FL 32308. A reception for guests will follow in the church parish hall. A visitation will be held Thursday, Feb. 28, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Culley's MeadowWood Funeral Home, 1737 Riggins Road, Tallahassee, FL 32308.

Dr. Simmons was a long-time champion of teachers' right to teach and students' right to read. For several decades he emphasized the inherent danger of literary censorship in the English classrooms of America's public schools. He was a past Chairman of the Standing Committee on Censorship for the National Council of Teachers of English. At FSU, each semester, he organized for his English Education Methods students a censorship panel composed of local citizens — parents, clergy, principals, and elected officials — to debate the pros and cons of the censorship issue and how it could impact their teaching careers. As a Professor Emeritus, he continued to be active in the FSU Writing Project and as a supervisor of student teachers. Dr. Simmons was the past president of the Florida Council of Teachers of English and was a past Chair of the International Assembly on the Teaching of English for the National Council of Teachers of English. He was also a member of the International Reading Association. Over his 40-year teaching career, he taught hundreds of students who have gone on to English teaching positions all over the country. He never lost his enthusiasm for teaching and was a resourceful, energetic example for his students. At FSU, Dr. Simmons was a recipient of both the Professional Excellence Program Award (PEP) and the Teaching Incentive Program Award (TIP), and was elected to Gold Key. In 2009, the John S. Simmons Award for the Outstanding Student Teacher in English Education was initiated at Florida State. During his professional career, Dr. Simmons was a consultant in 29 states and 35 Florida counties, and he authored 16 books and 125 published articles. In addition to making speeches and conducting workshops throughout world, he was a visiting fellow at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England and taught at Magdalene College, Oxford University.

Dr. Simmons was a native of Gloucester, MA, and was raised by Portuguese immigrant foster parents. He often spoke of the strength and courage of his foster father, who for most of his life was a fisherman in the icy waters of the Grand Banks. Dr. Simmons received his B.A. degree from Boston University and then entered the Army as a commissioned officer during the Korean War. He earned his Master's degree and Doctorate at the University of Minnesota. In addition to his professional role, Dr. Simmons was active in his Woodgate neighborhood; for many years, he volunteered as cook for the Pancake Breakfast and Steak Dinner at the annual June event, Woodgate Day. He served as lay reader and usher at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church.

Dr. Simmons is survived by his wife of 29 years, Katie Simmons; and four children, Sheila Greco and husband, Lou, of Tampa; Annette Brown and husband, Phil, of Plymouth, MI; David Lee Simmons and wife, Faith, of Atlanta, GA; and U.S. Army Maj. Douglas Simmons and his wife, Maj. Stephanie White, currently serving in Qatar and Kuwait, respectively; and three stepchildren, Stephen Mayfield and wife, Marjorie, of Bainbridge, GA, Philip Mayfield and wife, Kimberly, of Windermere, and Katherine McCall and husband, Scott, of Milton; and 11 grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his son, Stephen Anthony Simmons and grandson, Pfc. Anthony Warren Simmons.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that expressions of sympathy be made in the form of contributions to Big Bend Hospice, 1723 Mahan Center Blvd., Tallahassee, Fla. 32308, or to Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, 2015 Fleischmann Road, Tallahassee, FL 32308.


  • Visitation Thursday, February 28, 2013
  • Funeral Service Friday, March 1, 2013

Dr. John S. Simmons

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Robertt Kalin

March 2, 2013

John was a best friend. He had great courage; many times he said what many of us on the Faculty only felt. Bob Kalin, Math Ed.

Diana Simmons

March 1, 2013

Thinking and praying for peace and comfort for you all. Remembering the good times. With love, Diana

Crystal Price

February 28, 2013

Please accept my sincerest sympathy. My heart goes out to you in your time of sorrow, and know you are I my heart and prayers. Crystal Price

Mike Rychlik

February 28, 2013

Doc inspired so many of us to be brave in the classroom, to stand up for our students, and to value the opportunity to inspire young people. His spirit lives on in our classrooms and in our hearts.

Laura Fernandez-Rutledge

February 27, 2013

Prayers to the family. While an FSU student, I worked in the College of Education (1980-1984). Dr. Simmons was always friendly. Enjoyed working with him.

Karen Black

February 26, 2013

Sheila and family, our hearts pour out to you at this difficult time. What a legacy your father has left!I know the love and pride you have for him will last through eternity. Love, prayers, and hugs to all of you.....

Anna Breland Bailey

February 26, 2013

Katie - so sorry to hear about your loss. Know that you are in my prayers along with all of the Breland siblings.

J Hoffman

February 25, 2013

Mr. Simmons is a man who enjoyed life and loved people. A great educator. He will be truly missed.
God Bless and keep his family.

Lauren Fantle

February 23, 2013

I thank God often for Dr. Simmons. He is the reason I am living my dream. He believed in me. He helped me attain my goals and I can only hope to aspire to be as influential to at least one student during my tenure as a teacher. Much sympathy to Katie and the rest of the family.

Mike and Faye Angelotti

February 22, 2013

Unto this good night you go, John. Peace be with you. You have made your mark, my friend and colleague. For that your family is grateful. For that I am grateful. Respectfully, Mike.