Mary Louise Simmons, 91, died in Evanston, Illinois, on January 30. She was born Mary Louise Day in Centralia, Illinois, on February 22, 1930. As a young child she was discovered to have perfect pitch and began taking piano lessons at the age of six when the family moved to Carbondale, Illinois.
Mary Day attended the University of Illinois, graduating in 1951 with a major in organ and a minor in piano, having been inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda. She continued her musical studies at the School of Sacred Music of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where she served as class secretary. While there, she met fellow classmate Morgan Simmons, and they were married on May 17, 1953, two days before they were awarded their Master of Sacred Music degrees.
For more than twenty years, Mary served alongside Morgan as associate organist at the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, Illinois. She also served as office administrator for the Board of Global Ministries and the Board of Pensions of the United Methodist Church, then located in Evanston, Illinois.
In retirement, Mary Simmons was a faithful volunteer at the Presbyterian Homes of Evanston, where she was president of the Woman’s Board and chair of the 31 Shoppe. As an avid reader, Mary enjoyed participating in a couples’ book group until weeks before her death, aided by audiobooks as her sight deteriorated.
Mary Louise Simmons is survived by her husband of 68 years, Morgan F. Simmons; sons David (Barbara) Simmons and Robert (Deborah) Simmons; daughter Kathryn (Donald) Raithel; as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A service of remembrance took place March 26 at the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago. Memorial gifts may be made to the New Organist Fund (Morgan and Mary Scholarship) of the American Guild of Organists, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 1260, New York, New York 10115; or the Music Program at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 East Chestnut Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611.
For more information, see “A conversation with Morgan and Mary Simmons,” an interview by Steven Egler, in the April 2018 issue, pages 21–25, and “A conversation with Morgan and Mary Simmons,” an interview by Roy F. Kehl, in the July 1996 issue.
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