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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Friday, December 14, 2007

Letters Defend William J. Simmons

These letters appeared in The Clarion-Ledger, the first on December 6, 2007, and the second on December 14, 2007.

Shame on The Clarion-Ledger for dishonoring one of the most gentle men I have ever known. You should have asked a few Jacksonians if they knew Bill Simmons ("Simmons: 'Council' he led harmed the state," Dec. 1 editorial).

Obviously, you did not know Bill Simmons. I knew Bill Simmons, and I will always respect his memory as one who studied both sides of every situation.

Did you know that he read just as many books on integration as he did on segregation? Yes, his views were against the untried course of public policy, school integration, but the eventual results of this social engineering have been much less than successful. The loss of neighborhood schools is perhaps the greatest social malfunction in a century.

Naturally, I recount the famous phrase of another's passing, and remind you here:

"O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me."

-- J. Henry LaRose


Bill Minor's column following the death of my friend Bill Simmons ("Obituary didn't mention segregationist group deceased led," Dec. 7) recounted Mr. Simmons' association decades ago with the Citizens Council. But the column simply cannot stand as the last word on Bill Simmons' life.

Yes, the Citizen Council was just awful. But Bill, with the blessing of a long life, a keen intellect, and the support of a loving wife, Carol, later made it a point to thrust out his hand in sincere friendship across the racial and economic divides, renewing friendships with many - like my own father - who had earlier found it necessary to resist or oppose the Council.

And I am happy to report that Bill became my good friend as well as we worked together for the improvement and security of the Belhaven neighborhood for whom he became an essential patron and presence.

While others talk a good game for diversity and inclusion, I watched Bill Simmons live it. Every morning at his breakfast table at the Fairview Inn he owned with Carol, Bill breakfasted with the traveling public of all races and conditions.

And later, when Bill and Carol needed community support to extend their use permit to include a restaurant, the support was there across all racial and economic lines.

Bill was also a "Believer," so that in the end any contradictions between his past and present are resolved in Christ. As the comforting words of the prayer of commendation remind us, I say: "Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Bill. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive Bill into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen."

-- Robert P. Wise


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