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Gwendolyn Ann Jones Simmons

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SIMMONS, Gwen Gwendolyn Ann Jones Simmons, Gwen to all who knew her, was born on February 26, 1920 in Los Angeles, California. She was the middle of three sisters known as "The Jones Girls" - Edith, Gwen, and Corine - known for their intelligence, beauty, and grace. Their mother, Edith A Jones, from Columbus, Ohio, was a teacher, having graduated from Ohio State University in 1912. Their father, Clarence A Jones, from West Virginia, was the first Black American graduate from The Ohio State University Law School and was an outstanding civil lawyer in early 20th century Los Angeles, and a leader in the Black Community. The Jones family lived in Pasadena and Los Angeles, where Gwen graduated from Manual Arts High School. While still in high school, she first encountered a handsome, industrious, articulate, smart young man, John F. Simmons, who had just started Pasadena Junior College. Smitten, they kept in contact, although Gwen enrolled at UCLA and John enrolled at USC. Gwen finished UCLA in 1941 with a BA in primary education and began an over forty-year career as a Los Angeles School District elementary school teacher - sometimes serving as the first black teacher on the faculty. She loved teaching, being a part of the "village" that helped children grow in wondrous ways. Gwen and John were married September 7, 1941. John ultimately became a physician, graduating from Meharry Medical School in 1950. They had one child, John F. Simmons Jr., who was born in 1943. John is an oncologist, who lives in Oakland, California with his wife, Gayle Wilson Simmons. Gwen was well-known for her great sense of humor and ready smile. She also had a strong sense of social justice, loved beauty, travel, and the arts. Community mattered to Gwen. This was reflected in her active participation in such groups as the Links, AKAs, Grandmothers' Beach Group, Smart Set, Wilfandel Club, and the NAACP. She and John travelled extensively to Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and across the United States. She was a frequent visitor to New York where her sister, Edith lived. Gwen took great comfort in God, the Episcopal Church and the Bible. She kept a Bible and the Book of Common Prayer nearby for reading. Gwen died January 4, 2013, surrounded in love by family and friends. She leaves her son John, her grandson Loren of Atlanta, Georgia, and her granddaughter Gillian and great-grandson Kieran James Thompson, also of Oakland, CA. Gwen had great sadness at leaving the now last of the three Jones Girls, her sister Edith. She is also survived by nephews Edward Boyd Jr.; Tim Boyd; Brandon Boyd; Russell Taylor; niece Rebecca Boyd Driver, and cousin Emily Hickman, and legions of other relatives and friends who held her dear. Services will be held at 9:30 am on Saturday, January 19, 2013, at St Mary's Episcopal Church, 961 S Mariposa Avenue in Los Angeles; followed by brief graveside services, and a Repast at the Wilfandel Club, 3425 W Adams Blvd in Los Angeles. The family requests donations to the United Negro College Fund in lieu of flowers.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 13, 2013
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