Remembering a precious life of faith, learning and teaching
Longtime educator Ethel Simmons dies on April 2 at age 97.
“You expand your world through learning- the more you learn about a wide variety of subjects, the better off you will be.”
That was the philosophy of long-time Cherokee County Educator Ethel Simmons who died Sunday, April 2.
Ethel H. Simmons, according to biographical information, was born to Joe and Laura Berry Hardaway on Aug. 27, 1919, in Montgomery County, Alabama, where she spent her early years.
Following her graduation from Booker T. Washington High School, she continued her education at Alabama State University earning two academic degrees with preparation in Elementary and Secondary Education and Library Science in 1944 and 1950 respectively. Her teaching career began prior to her earning the B. S. degree. She started teaching in Dale County in 1939. After four years, she accepted a higher position as principal/ teacher in Shelby County beginning in 1944 and continued until 1948.
Being drawn to the Cherokee County Board of Education, she accepted the position of teacher/ librarian and remained from 1948 until she retired in 1986, having taught at Hatcher High School and Cedar Bluff High School.
With an innate love of learning and an eagerness to share that love with others, teaching was a natural for Ethel H. Simmons, according to some of those who knew her best. As a teacher, she was superlative, receiving numerous nominations and recognitions as “Teacher of the Year,” and in 1993 was recognized as the Cherokee County “Woman of the Year.” She served as a member of the County Family and Community Education Association and was elected vice president and president-elect of the Retired Teachers Association in 1994.
Her community involvement included county organizer of the P.T.A., Worthy Matron of Order of the Eastern Star, Secretary of the Civic League, Treasurer of the NAACP, President of the Progressive Women’s Guild, and an active and office member of the Alabama Democratic Conference.
Although she grew up in the Coles Chapel Baptist Church in Montgomery where she was very active as a youth and as an adult, she became a committed member of St. Mary United Methodist in 1968.
In her local church, she served faithfully as Lay Leader, financial secretary, Chairperson on Education, Sunday School teacher, pianist for the Adult Choir, and Vice President of United Methodist Women.
On the District level, she served as secretary, Supportive Community Coordinator, President of the United Methodist women, Secretary for the Council on Ministries, and Parliamentarian for United Methodist Women. On the Conference level, she also served as a member of the Executive Committee for the Council on Ministries and as Secretary for the Board of Global Ministries.
Ethel Simmons’ Christian faith was an integral part of her life.
She fought through various daunting circumstances during her lifetime, but overcame them with remarkable grace and resolve.
She never wavered from her conviction that God was in control and that He would be with her, and He was.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Leon Simmons, her sister Patsie H. Allen, and her brother Joe Hardaway Jr. She is survived by her loving family — Barbara Anne, daughter and her husband James Moody; their children, Jamie, James Leonidas (Jennifer),and Jean; great- grandson James Lewis Moody, all of San Antonio, Texas; niece, Barbara Jo Lane and her husband Moses;their children, Anjanette Lane, Moses Lane, Jr., DaQuandra Lane, Kendra Lane, and Andrea Lane, all of Montgomery, Alabama.
Services were Saturday, April 8, in St. Mary’s United Methodist Church with Perry Funeral Home directing.
Interment followed at Cherokee Memory Gardens.