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Sept. 1, 2012
STEVE SIMMONS DIES AFTER TRAGIC BOATING ACCIDENTTerry Hennessy CEO
Senior Softball lost one of the champions of the sport on Aug. 16, when longtime SSUSA National Director Steve Simmons, 67, died as a result of severe injuries suffered in a boating accident.
Steve was instrumental in every facet of senior softball. He was a major force in the National Senior Softball Summit, helped create the SSUSA Clubs and Leagues program, created the very popular Recreational Tournament Circuits, was an exceptional tournament director, a member of the National Rules Committee – and, most important – he loved to play softball.
Steve and his team, Minnesota Prize Co., recently won the 65 Division Western Nationals in Aurora, Colo. He played on many of the best teams in Minnesota in addition to the Prize Co., including Minnesota Supreme, Minnesota Masters, and Park Tavern Masters.
“Steve was a great hitter, even a better man,” said teammate Bob Hartshorn, who gave a moving remembrance at Steve Simmon’s memorial.
Hartshorn told a few stories to illustrate Simmons other unique attributes – including a varocious appetite and an uncanny ability to attract rain.
“Steve’s favorite saying at any meal was ‘Are you finished with that’?” said Hartshorn. “In Aurora after a team meal, he had at least 5-6 plates stacked in front of him at the end of the meal.”
“It also seemed like Steve actually attracted rain. He ran many tournaments and it rained at most of them – we expected it,” said Hartshorn. “The last tournament began as a glorious day in Rochester, until Steve arrived. He opened the door of his car and as he stepped out, the rain started.”
“Most of all we’ll miss his positive attitude, ready laugh and his friendship,” he said.
On Aug. 9, Simmons and his two grandchildren were boating on the Narrow River in Rhode Island when they hit a sand bank. The Narrow River is a challenging river that has sand banks that change with the tide.
At the time of the accident, the tide was going out and the river was shallower than when they began boating that day. His family reported that Simmons was standing up, watching for the sand banks to ensure his grandkids were safe. When the boat hit, Simmons was ejected over the bow of the boat into shallow water.
His grandchildren jumped into action right away. One jumped in the water to pull Steve up and the other dialed 911. First responders at the scene were able to get Steve to nearby paramedics.
Upon impact, Simmons suffered a cardiac arrest and another cardiac arrest while in transport. The initial CT scan and MRI tests showed that Simmons had a C2 fracture. A subsequent CT scan and MRI showed that the spinal cord was completely severed.
He never regained consciousness and MRI exams showed severe brain damage.
Simmons grew up in Rhode Island, but lived in Minnesota the past 40 years. He came from a large, close-knit family of six children and four double cousins who grew up within a mile from his childhood home.
Simmons met his wife, Nancy, married in 1972 in Ada, Minn. They have two children and two grandchildren who all enjoy spending summer vacations at the cottage in Rhode Island.
Steve Simmons was a fierce competitor and avid softball player who enjoyed running senior softball tournaments all over the country. Steve has played baseball or softball every year of his life since he was a child.
Simmons was employed as a mechanical engineer until his retirement from Marathon Oil Refinery. He fulfilled his lifelong dream of playing softball full time and running senior softball tournaments.
The memorial service in the Minneapolis suburb of Excelsior drew several hundred people, including scores of players wearing their softball jerseys in respect for Simmon’s role in their lives.
A number of speakers celebrated Steve’s life and accomplishments with a touch of humor that Steve would have loved. Tales of Steve’s ferocious appetite, ready smile, and laughter peppered the remembrances. On a more serious side, many speakers cited Steve’s integrity, devotion to the game – and to his family above all.
Steve is survived by his wife of almost 40 years Nancy, children Melissa and Jeremy, grandchildren Lane and Dalton, brother Kenny Simmons (Bernice), sisters Debbie Aldrich (Geoff), Martha Miller (Garry), Susan Beauchemin (Michael) and Amy Marseglia (Bob) and many cousins including close double cousins, nephews, nieces and great nephews and nieces.
Those wishing to send cards or letters to the family can send them to this address:
22410 Murray St.
Shorewood, MN, 55331
The family asked that any donations be made to either Minnehaha Academy at 4200 West River Parkway, Minneapolis, MN., 55406 or Excelsior Covenant Church, 19955 Excelsior Boulevard, Excelsior, MN, 55331.