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    Senior Day
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Football
Willis Ivery Simmons (#21 in photo) With Fellow Members of the Undefeated 1964 Football Team
Willis Ivery Simmons (#21 in photo) With Fellow Members of the Undefeated 1964 Football Team
Football - Thu, Jul. 13, 2017

Lake Wales, Florida-Former EWC football player and alum, Willis Ivery Simmons (1942-2017) passed away on Wednesday afternoon in his hometown of Lake Wales, Florida. Simmons was a loved and respected member of the Edward Waters family as he frequently gave of his time, energy, and several financial donations in support of his beloved Alma Mater. 

Prior to coming to Edward Waters, Simmons was a multi-sport student-athlete at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School (now The Roosevelt Academy) in Lake Wales. He set several records at Roosevelt and received numerous awards and accolades including Most Valuable Player.

Following his secondary education, Simmons took his talents to Jacksonville where he was four-year starter from 1960-1963 at halfback under former EWC head coach Clifford "Jack" Paul. He was known as "Rambling Red" to his teammates because of his world-class speed and his ability to break away from opposing defenses. While donning the purple and orange, "Red" received numerous awards and accolades including: Leading Scorer 1960-1962, Leading Rusher 1960-1962, All-Southeast Athletic Conference, 1960-1962. He was also selected as Most Valuable Player from 1960-1962 and was named Most Outstanding Athlete by the Florida Times-Union in 1961. During his final year as a student at EWC in 1964, Simmons served as an assistant coach for the football program where he helped lead the Tigers to a 10-0 record which still remains as the last undefeated season for EWC. Not only was Simmons a sensational football player at Edward Waters, he was a member of the Tigers basketball and baseball teams as well.

After graduating from EWC in 1964, Simmons returned to his native Polk County where he was employed by Polk County Schools for several years as a coach and a teacher. He later entered the business realm as a materials manager at Findlay Industries in Lake Wales. Simmons retired from Findlay in 2004 after thirty-seven years of service to the company. 

In 2009, Edward Waters bestowed a tremendous honor upon him as he was inducted into the Edward Waters College Athletics Hall of Fame. Later on, he was also recognized in his hometown as a member of the Polk County Sports Hall of Fame. During the 2013 Homecoming football contest, the first ever football game played on campus at Edward Waters, Simmons along with several former Tigers from the 1964 squad were brought back and honored along with current EWC president, Dr. Nathaniel Glover, Jr. Simmons was also a member of the Allen Temple AME Church in Lake Wales where he served on the Board of Trustees and was a member of several choirs at the church.

Simmons is survived by his wife of fourty-nine years and former Miss Edward Waters College, Doris Mizelle Simmons, son Jeffery, Sr., daughter-in-law Gwen, and grandchildren Jeffery, Jr. and Jonathan. 

Current Edward Waters Senior Men's Basketball student-athlete and fellow Lake Wales native Oshey Washington best summed up what several Tigers felt about Simmons saying, "He treated me like a son.".