1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


Town of Alderson News Release Aug 1, 2009

On Saturday, August 1, 2009, a surprise 90th birthday party was held for Bill Simmons on the lawn of Luther and Judy Lewallen’s house in Alderson.  Approximately 80 of his friends and family gathered to celebrate with Bill and his wife, Frances Simmons.   

On a picture perfect day, under the huge, spreading limbs of an ancient oak tree, family and friends enjoyed a barbecue catered by Lakeside Bar-B-Q of Summersville, Chris Lewallen, owner.  They were entertained by J. Michael Geary, who played the guitar and also sang an original song written by Judy Lewallen. Betty Groves paid tribute with a poem.  Many other friends of Bill, as well as his oldest son, Mike Simmons, spoke of him as a role model and friend. 

Bill Simmons has lived his entire life in the same house except for 2 years during which he and Frances lived in Keyser, WV.  His father ran a successful dairy farm and Bill carried on the tradition of serving the citizens of Alderson by delivering milk on a daily basis until 1950.  Using the slogan, “You can’t beat our milk, but you can whip our cream”, the familiar glass bottles with the red lettering proclaiming “Hilltop Dairy, Simmons and Son” were a fixture on the back porches of houses in Alderson.   

Especially as a young man, Bill delivered the milk personally.  He tells the story of an elderly woman whose standing order was for a half pint (one cup) of milk each day.  She lived on the third floor of a boarding house which was up a very steep flight of steps making it a five or six story climb.  Some days when he would reach her door, she would open it and say, “Not today, Billy, not today.” 

In 1954, Bill and Frances opened Simmons Building Specialties which installed awnings, aluminum siding, storm windows, and complete kitchens throughout the Alderson area.  He used to joke about seeing him for “a shady deal”.  They sold this business in 1996. 

Simmons was also involved in many civic organizations. He was a charter member of the Alderson Lions Club and is still active after 61 years.  He served on Alderson’s Town Council for one term and was instrumental in acquiring the land for the Town Park.   He was an original member of the Greenbrier County Planning Commission and the Greenbrier Valley Chamber of Commerce.  As a member of the Hinton-Alderson Development Corporation, he helped establish the Pence Springs Sewing Plant which employed over 100 workers for 20 years.  He served on the Board of Directors of the First National Bank of Alderson for 27 years. 

As a WVU football fan, he went to many games over the years in the company of Judge Charles M. Lobban and the late Tom Housby.  Bill is still active as a member of Alderson Main Street, the Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church, and the Lions Club. He is a C & O Railroad buff who enjoys watching the trains come through Alderson. 

Mayor Luther Lewallen presented Mr. Simmons with a certificate proclaiming him an “Outstanding Citizen of Alderson”.  Mayor Lewallen said, “There are two mighty oaks on this lawn today.  One is the magnificent 400 to 900 year old specimen under which we are seated and the other is Bill Simmons.” 

Members of his immediate family who attended the celebration were his wife, Frances Tuckwiller Simmons; son, Michael R. Simmons and his daughter Laura; daughter Julie Shafer and her husband, Allen; daughter Margie Simmons; and son Tom Simmons, his wife, Belinda, and their children Brittany, Jessica, and Benjamin.

Congratulatory Remarks

I would like to join the many others who have wished Bill Simmons a very happy 90th birthday. It was never very easy to know for sure where Bill stood on a given issue for he was the consummate politician, but I've lived my life thinking he was on my side. He had this knack for making others feel as though they were worth something. He was my friend. He was my mentor. He was and remains a rare and diminishing breed of Great Americans. Again, Happy, Happy Birthday, Mr. Simmons.
- David Shields

In almost a century, the name of Bill Simmons should be on the list of the top citizens of Alderson. In fact, if no one else has claimed, or been proclaimed, I would like to nominate Bill Simmons as the "Official Ambassador Of Alderson, W. Va". Happy Birthday Bill! Long live the Ambassador!"
- Barry Worrell

I'd like to share a particular memory I have of Bill and his inventive talents. When he was in the 7th grade with Mrs. Miller (?) as his teacher she promoted an exhibition day of some sort. All of the classes in the elementary school were invited, one at a time, up to their 2nd floor classroom to see all of the exhibits the class had made. It was Bill's that entranced me and I've never forgotten it.

He had constructed a mill run by waterpower. The water came from a water tower (I believe a tin can elevated on metal legs). The water ran down onto a wheel which turned over and over spilling the water out into a chute and into a container under the table which he then dipped out in a cup and refilled the water tower. The water wheel turned something that raised and lowered something else that stacked pieces of cardboard(?) and on and on it went. I have lost the entire sequence, it was very involved, but the water tower and the water wheel filling and turning and emptying were the most amazing things I had ever seen.

His inventiveness was not limited to a classroom project. It was always a treat to go play at Bill's house. He always had a new game, a newly carved gun for the cowboys and Indians event, puzzles, collections of stuff. And he was always kinder to me, of course, than my brother Charles who was his friend and classmate. I'm sure I didn't appreciate his heavy work responsibilities that came his way so young. Happy Birthday, Bill.
- Mary M. Steele Morgan

Who could match Mary Margaret Morgan's tribute to Bill. She has said it all and so well.

There is one thing folks might overlook in Billy Simmons. He is always so at ease when talking to everyone. His manners when he talks to the ladies on his milk route. They loved him.

I rode with him some when I was a kid... Yesmam! Yesmam! Yesmam! Along with that winning smile of his....
When he spoke with Coach. Yes, Sir! Yes, Sir! Yes, Sir! Sure we all treated Coach like he was something from Heaven... (and he may have been) but no one did it like Bill.
- Bobby Black

Congratulations Bill Simmons on your 90th birthday. The Duffs would like to add our wishes to the many you already have. We have a lot of fond memories of the Simmons’.

My brother Denver worked for a while on the dairy farm. He came home and told us he had gotten a job working at your dairy. We were really excited when he said he would be pulling down over 60 a week. We thought he meant dollars. He straightened us out. He came home one day and said he had resigned. Bill had told him he was an utter failure in the dairy business. He nick named you "Chalk Water".

Bill, you were a success in business and a success in life. Happy birthday!
- Dan Duff

Photos of Bill's Birthday Party