James J. Simmons, Jr., affectionally known as "Jay", was born on April 13, 1952, in Beaumont, Texas to the late James J. Sr. and Frances V. Simmons. He was the fourth and last child of James and Frances.
James "Jay" accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior at an early age at the St. John Missionary Baptist Church, Beaumont Texas. Jay served in Sunday School, Baptist Training Union (BTU) and the Boy Scouts. He would later move to Dallas and attend New Mount Zion Baptist Church under the love and pedagogy of Pastor Robert E. Price, Sr.
James "Jay" received his formal education through the Beaumont Independent School District graduating from Charlton-Pollard High School. Musically gifted, Jay participated in the band, and played the saxophone instrument. Recognized for his musical talent and leadership skills, Jay was the Drum Major of the Marching Band that performed during football season. In off-season, he played with other school related venues as well as the orchestra. Jay repaired and restored numerous musical instruments.
James "Jay" embraced his technical and mechanical skills. He was a gifted auto mechanic. He would later become a licensed welder. He worked for American Valve and Hydrant Manufacturing Beaumont, Texas for many years. He moved from Beaumont to San Antonio, Texas where, under the tutelage of his uncle Samuel Simmons, Sr., he learned construction, thus heightening his knowledge which helped to grow his technical abilities and experience.
In his former marriage, two adorable children were born, daughter Rhonesha and son James Eric Simmons, whom he dearly loved.
James "Jay" eventually moved to Dallas where he lived for some thirty years. His last employment, New Mount Zion Baptist Church Day Care Center, afforded him the opportunity to utilize his skill sets and knowledge acquired from years of training and experience. He often spoke of his love and inspiration for his co-workers and the enjoyment he received from helping with the kids.
James "Jay" enjoyed the fellowship of others, gardening, photography, poetry, traveling, reading, and fishing. He was an avid fisherman. He spoke often of the peace, great beauty, and serenity that he found in seeing and living in God’s creation. After reading his Bible, he sometimes mentioned ways that God’s words came to life for him. During the last years of Jay’s earthly journey, his mantra was “But I’m Thankful”. Once asked, "What is your favorite scripture?", Jay stated, “I like them all”.
James "Jay" fell asleep in Christ on March 14, 2023. Preceding him in death were his parents, James J. Sr. and Frances Simmons, and sibling Roy Edward Simmons.
Those left to forever cherish precious memories in their hearts include his children, Rhonesha Simmons and James E. Simmons of San Antonio, Texas; siblings, Frances E. Kenny of Mesquite, Texas and Ronda L. Parish (Marvin) of Richardson, Texas; sibling cousins, Craig Mitchell and Robert Mitchell of Houston, Texas; and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends.
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