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John "Johnny" Simmons, former U.S. national indoor speedskating champion in the early1940's, died Wednesday in Westport, five days after his 93rd birthday.
He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Ellen Simmons, 87 of Norwalk, whom he met at Lake Placid, NY, where he was training, and she was rehearsing as a figure-skater for the Sonia Henie Review.
Among his many victories were beating the entire 1940 U.S. Olympic team in a 1942 race in Washington, DC, and winning the 1943 Silver Skates Race of Champions before 14,797 fans in Madison Square Garden, as headlined in The New York Daily News.
His five children all remember him flooding the backyard in Old Greenwich, carefully creating ice rinks, which they all skated on by the time they were three years old.
During World War II, he was a member of the famous 10th Mountain Division (110th Mountain Signal Company), skiing through the North Appennines in Italy as part of the Allied invasion. He received a Bronze Star.
He was born in South Norwalk, March 8, 1920. After finishing high school in 1939, he attended an electric motor trade school and worked for the Electric Specialty Co. in Stamford from 1940 until enlisting in 1943.
For nearly 40 years after the War, he was a speculative home-builder in Greenwich, moving his family into each new home he finished and then trying to sell it while starting to build the next.
In addition to his wife, he survived by his five children - Kevin Simmons of Rowayton, Nancy Breakstone of Westport, Gail Simmons of Maui, Eileen Simmons of Nantucket, and Brian Simmons of Newtown - and five grandchildren.
Funeral services will be private.
Published in GreenwichTime on Mar. 14, 2013