As the sunset was drawing nigh on August 19, 2019, Doretha Simmons, a soldier in Yahweh’s earthly army became an angel and walked through heaven’s pearly gates. The Matriarch of the Simmons family, Doretha was born on April 1, 1933 in Blytheville, Arkansas to her parents: Noble Allen (who died at a very early age) and Bessie (Cherry) Allen Henderson, and Ike Henderson who was a devoted stepfather. While growing up in Blytheville her paths crossed with Mr. John Athan Simmons, Jr. whom she later married in June of 1952. Soon after becoming Mrs. John A. Simmons, Jr., the couple traveled north and made their home in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Their union produced 7 children: 6 girls and 1 boy. Doretha primarily devoted her energies to raising her children, although she did work at Michigan Fruit Canneries, Dr. Polansky’s medical office, and later in life as a health caretaker focusing on Dementia and Alzheimer patients. Doretha’s many talents included building some items for the home and she was very creative with all that she did.
Doretha attended Richard B. Harrison High School in Blytheville, Arkansas and later joined and became a member of a chapter of the Harrisonites. She loved attending her class reunions which in held in various states. After obtaining her GED in Michigan she attended classes at Lake Michigan College. She loved gardening and working in the yard. She was “Always her children’s Mother and Forever their Friend". She was a major history buff and maintained an enthusiastic and passionate interest in current events. She could converse with the best of them. She was full of energy and pep and tried to live each day to the fullest. Doretha enjoyed traveling abroad having visited Egypt, Bahamas and Canada.
Mother Simmons was a devoted and faithful member of the House of Prayer Ministries, Niles, Michigan under the tutelage of Rev. Larry Williams, Pastor. Mother Simmons served on the Mother’s Board and she was the oldest member of the House of Prayer. She was a rock to all that knew her. A very respected and deeply committed woman she was full of wisdom and provided mentorship as well as friendship to others in the community. She had a special bond with Timothy Williams, one of her Great-grandsons, as she assumed the responsibility of raising him for approximately 8 years well after her own children were good and grown.
Doretha is survived by her loving children: Georcie Carolyn (Thomas) Jones of Snellville, GA; Diana (Larry) Williams and Cynthia (Ricky) Taylor both of South Bend, IN; Johnnie Mae (Saywreyne) Gargard of Lansing, MI; Gaylene Simmons of Berrien Springs, MI; and John A. Simmons, III of Long Beach, CA. Her Grandchildren: Jarrett Simmons, Richard Jones; Shameka Simmons; Micah, Serene, Joseph, and Aaron Williams; Crystol Jenkins, Barron Gargard; Steven Wysinger, Santez Simmons, and John A. Simmons, IV. She also leaves to cherish her memory: her Sister, Dorothy Jean Wilson of Chicago, IL; and her brother, Jay Allen of Mount Vernon, NY. And a host of Great grandchildren, and Great-great grandchildren, cousins, and friends.
Doretha is preceded in death by her husband, John Athan (JA) Simmons Jr; a daughter: Doris Jean Simmons Hodges; her Mother, Bessie Allen Henderson; her Father, Noble Allen; her Stepfather, Ike Henderson. Her brothers: Edgar Allen, Jesse Allen, and Oscar Kinnon; her sisters: Callie Long, Ethel Black, Hazel Morris and Louise Hull.
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