James "Jimmy" Harry Simmons

April 9, 2021

When you read this, I will be in Heaven, celebrating with my loved ones who have gone before me, especially my beloved grandson Scott and oldest son Mike. Grandma Annie has probably decided I am not coming! I am eager to tell her how much I loved her and what a wise woman she was at 99 when she passed away.

I know I will not finish all I want to tell you because I do put things off until the last minute and say, “wait until tomorrow” (a phrase I use often, so I am told).

I was born in a small house in a rural section of Stokes County, North Carolina, called Francisco, about 20 miles east of Mt. Airy. My father, John Taylor Simmons, was a rural horseback-riding United States Mail Carrier. My mother was a beautiful tobacco farmer’s daughter and taught school at R. J. Reynolds, at the foot of Brown Mountain. They were very ambitious and wanted to have a better life for their family. In 1928, with my brothers, Rober, William (Bill), Me (James Harry), and younger brother Bob, we moved to Greensboro, North Carolina. It took a half-day to drive from Francisco to Greensboro. Brother Tom and sister Nancy were born after our move.

J.T. (that is what I called my dad) and Mother left a legacy that I am thankful for and hope to leave for my children; Mike (deceased), Rick, Jeff, Gale, Jim G., Charles G., and Robin M., 12 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren, and the expected arrival of a little girl in May.

My parents were God-fearing people that I am proud of. They taught us to worship God, to study God’s Word, and grow in knowledge. They instilled in me to be resourceful and always help others. Along the way I have discovered that by using their examples and teachings I have fulfilled so many of my ideas and dreams. I like to think of it somewhat like the manual you receive when you buy a new car – the Operations Manual. It tells you how to operate your new car. The manual we have from God, written for us, is the Bible.

As mentioned earlier, my parents were ambitious, not lazy, and I too have always been ambitious. Having spent many summers with Grandma Annie and Grandpa Jim on the tobacco farm, I knew as a young boy I did not want to be a farmer. I would “fetch” water from the spring for my doting aunts – Ethel, Ella, and Mozella, who called me Jimmy and bragged about the good water I carried up the hill.

Summers were enjoyed at the farm by going with my cousins to “Chatty” swimming hole, swinging on grapevine swings, and hiding in the woods. My cousin Bernie was Aunt Verda and Uncle Joel’s son. Aunt Verda was my mom’s sister and Uncle Joel was my dad’s brother, so that made Bernie my double first cousin and I thought of him as a brother. Uncle Garry and Uncle Hickman lived nearby; Uncle Elner and Uncle Arthur were in Greensboro.

When we were very young, my brother Bill and I built a wagon, loaded it with “kindling” and sold to neighbors, along with eggs and newspapers. I knew then I liked selling and wanted to be an entrepreneur, although at that age I feel sure I didn’t know what the word meant.

At 16 years of age, I bought a dump truck and enjoyed hauling dirt and gravel. I was earning money and investing but continued to go by the legacy left by my parents to be generous, to share what I had, and be helpful to others as God’s manual says.

In World War II, I was in the Naval Air Corps and loved serving my country. At that time, my parents have four sons in service and several nephews. All of us received many prayers for our safety. After service, I was able to attend college at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, earning a degree in Engineering. I continue to love the school and I’m a big fan of their sports.

I treasure so many of the experiences I had and learned from mentors, whether it was selling men’s clothing, hats, shoes, or cars at different locations. Finally, I was able to purchase a dealership in Concord, North Carolina. The thrill of searching for the best location, purchasing the property, watching every little detail from the first shovel of dirt and hanging the sign “Jim Simmons Pontiac Buick, GMC Truck” was the reward I felt from attempting to follow my parents’ legacy and God’s manual. I treasure the business associates and friends I made. I was one of the first owners of a fourth-floor condo at First Turn Condos and enjoyed sharing with family and friends.

Having a scrap metal plant (junk yard) and Carolina Mtn. Bottled Water plant was interesting – but I will save that story for later.

It was difficult to move from my home on Lake Norman, where I always looked forward to summers and holidays, because that is when my family and friends would come for boating and visits. My favorite spot was sitting under the pecan tree, eating and looking out over the lake at the beautiful sunset.

My wonderful doctor, Dr. Stacey Comfont Le told me that because of chronic kidney disease, I may at some time have to make the decision to go on dialysis. I realized I needed to make changes. It was one of the most difficult decisions of my entire life to sell my home on the lake. I moved to Aldersgate Independent Living to a small cottage with a small lake in back of the house (I call it a fishpond). Much to my surprise I have enjoyed and treasured my new neighbors and friends who became my family.

I did make the decision to begin dialysis at Fresenius North, where Diane and Tinika became like granddaughters to me (I love you too, Lloyd). Thank you also, Dr. Tierney. Kidney dialysis has brought more new friends into my life. I have the honor of being the first patient at Fresenius Aldersgate where I tell them they were able to practice on me. Dr. Hart, Manager Kelly Thomas, Teresa, July, Vera, Eddie are all now a big part of my family and are angels.

Please don’t feel sorry for me! In terms of age, it has been a long journey, but it seems not long enough as there are many things I would like to do. I have enjoyed how blessed I am to think of memories of my many much-loved cousins (thanks Rebecca and Hickman, Jr.), grandson Stephen, and brother Bill, who continue to stay in touch– I enjoy your calls. I can watch TV, discuss politics, watch the stock market, remembering travels to Hong Kong, Europe and the mountains of North Carolina. You are the sunshine of my life.

As Jim predicted, he did not finish his story and he would not have told you what a wonderful person he was. He would have said “I am fine” and then the conversation would be about you and current events. Words cannot fully describe him, but as two of his best friends, Sherra and Nicole, said, “He is charming! He looks at you when he talks to you, smiling with his beautiful blue eyes (he told them his eyes were green) and melts your heart”.

I would often laugh when we were in the doctor’s office, hearing him tell the doctors how to help their patients, how to overcome diabetes and kidney disease, rather than focus on his needs. He appreciated the time Dr. Dale Owen spent with him.

Jim was a member of the Concord Rotary Club where he enjoyed introducing guest speakers. He was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the North Kannapolis Baptist Church. He served on the board of Wachovia Bank (now Wells Fargo) and the board of directors of UNC – Charlotte. He was involved in fundraising for colleges and local hospitals in Concord. During severe snow and ice storms he furnished transportation for essential workers at the hospital in Concord. He furnished a dump truck with sand for the Pilot Club of Charlotte’s first “Love Lights” event at Freedom Park. Pilots, with Jim’s help and others, raised thousands of dollars given to Duke University for Alzheimer’s research. We keep hearing from so many people who were enriched from Jim’s advice and generosity.

On Friday, April 9, Jim left his earthly home for his Heavenly home, where there will be no more suffering. He leaves for all of us a legacy of love, hope, trust, and forgiving spirit. He will never be forgotten.

Because of COVID-19, a memorial service for family and friends to celebrate Jim’s life will be held in June with his long-time best friend, Jean by his side. Memorial contributions can be made to National Kidney Foundation, 7413 Six Forks Road, PMB 255, Raleigh, NC 27615, www.kidney.org. Please specify “Research in memory of James H. Simmons”.

Arrangements are in the care of Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service, 1321 Berkeley Ave., Charlotte, NC; 28204 (704) 641-7606. Online condolences can be shared at www.kennethpoeservices.com.

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  • Sara Taylor Moore

    So sorry to hear about my 2nd Cousin Jim. I always enjoyed seeing him when he would drive up to Westfield to visit my Granny Patty and Papa Gary, or if my parents (JC & Rebecca) would take a day trip to his home at Lake Norman. He was always so very kind to my family. My thoughts and prayers to all those who loved Jim.

  • Joshua A. Griffin

    I am the son of James F.B. Griffin, who is Jimmy's son with Quindora "Jan" Keeney-McCuiston. Jim, my father, was born 12/13/1957, and due to social etiquette, amongst other circumstances, was given the surname "Griffin." In his teenage years, he learned about his father Jimmy Simmons and was able to nurture a closer relationship to him throughout his adult life. I met Grandpa Simmons on seldom occasions throughout my life, but unfortunately, I did not get a chance to know him well. Reading his accounts of his young life and family intrigued me and I realized there is so much of my own family's history that I have yet to know. I am grateful for this personal touch he put into his final words. I would have really enjoyed getting to know him better. I hope he is resting comfortably with his Grandma Annie and other loved ones; it is my personal belief that "He" reunites all those who've loved before. For his family left behind whom I have never met, I offer my sincerest condolences. "Rest in love and in peace Grandpa Simmons." ~ your grandson, Joshua

  • Rob Renfro

    Where do I begin, Jim’s been a part of my life as long as I can remember, he was unofficially my great uncle as long as I could remember. I am usually good with words but it would be impossible for me to quantify the impact he had on me and my life. I was always in awe of this great wildly successful man who always saw the best in me even when I made it hard to see. He always pushed me to be better than I was yesterday and to see possibilities for myself that I couldn’t even imagine for myself. I always wanted his approval and for him to be proud. He is and was one of the best people I’ve ever known. I always looked forward to all the wisdom he was always so happy to pass along, not because he knew it all, but because he wanted to help me be better. I will miss him and all the different memories, from races at the condo, to fishing on his dock, and riding on his boat or just hanging out listening to him talk about stocks and how wonderful my Aunt Jean is. I was lucky to know him and have all these memories I will miss him but cherish every minute I ever spent with him, Jim I am so glad the last time I spoke to you that our last words were I love you, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Until we meet again.

  • Melvin and Anita McIntosh

    We met Jim in the dining room at Aldersgate, when we first moved in, two years ago. We saw him eating with Jean, across the room, and decided right then, that we had to meet him. He looked so pleasant and friendly, and that feeling became a real experience as we got to know him. Jim is one of the nicest, friendliest, kindest, generous persons that we have ever met, and we are so glad to have had the experience of knowing him. May God's greatest comfort be with all his family and friends during these days. ><}}}*>