Amos Benjamin Simmons Jr., 91, passed away at home in Rio Rancho, N.M. on Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. "Ben," as he liked to be called, was born on Nov. 14, 1922, in Woden, Texas to Amos and Elma Simmons. Ben joined the U.S. Army
Air Force in 1941 and served in the South Pacific during World War II
. Ben and his family traveled to numerous assignments, including three years stationed in Bitburg, Germany, where he worked as a crew chief maintaining the Air Force aerial team, the "Sky Blazers." He retired from the Air Force in 1965 after 25 years of military service and built a home in Woden with his wife, Catherine. In 1989, they moved to Nacogdoches where they resided until 2009. Ill health forced them to move into an assisted living center in Nacogdoches where they stayed until they moved to New Mexico in March of 2010. After retiring from the service, he enjoyed traveling to various destinations such as Yellowstone Park, Branson, Mo., and two trips to New Mexico to visit his son and daughter-in-law. Throughout his life he enjoyed working in the yard and especially enjoyed tinkering on the numerous "fixer-upper" autos he bought and sold over the years. Ben and his wife, Catherine, moved to Rio Rancho, where they lived with his son and his daughter-in-law. In Texas and later in New Mexico, Ben enjoyed watching the birds and animals that visited his backyards. Over the last four years, from his new home in New Mexico, he enjoyed the beautiful view of the Rio Grande River and the Sandia Mountains. From the house Ben could see quail, hawks, and many other birds, chipmunks, squirrels and even coyotes. He also grew close to his son's two dogs, so much so that he adopted Gideon, a little terrier mix, as his own companion. During his time in New Mexico, he was thrilled that numerous family members including his sister, Lucille; his brother, Quinton; his children and grandchildren; and his loving niece, Betty Ann were able to make multiple visits to his new home. During some of the visits, they were able to view the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta together from the house and back porch, visit the Coronado Monument and an antique automobile museum nearby to look at the Model T Fords and other vintage autos. Charlie also drove Ben up to the top of the famous Albuquerque Tramway so they could enjoy the fantastic view together. Ben is survived by his sister, Lucille Snider of El Paso; brother, Quinton Simmons of Rowlett; daughter and son-in-law, Jo Ann and Tom Altman of Houston; and by his son and daughter-in-law, Charles and Donna Simmons of Rio Rancho; as well as a number of nieces, nephews, cousins and longtime friends in the Nacogdoches area and elsewhere. Ben was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Catherine; both his parents; as well as his older sister, Marguerite; and his younger brother, Fred. A visitation will be held from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, at Laird Funeral Home. The funeral service will be held immediately following at 11 a.m. Brother Kendall McDonald from Fredonia Baptist Church will be officiating. Interment will follow at Sunset Memorial Cemetery. Laird Funeral Home.