Jas Simmons

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Jas (James Mark) Simmons

Jas (James Mark) Simmons departed unexpectedly on September 9th, 2017. He was born on February 28, 1944 in Seattle Washington to Mildred and James Simmons. His father was then serving as a navy pilot on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. Jas grew up in Taos Canyon, learning at an early age to love both nature and solitude. Art was ingrained during his young life as his father vigorously followed the life of a painter and sculptor. Music became a passion in his high school years, and would remain so for the rest of his life. He earned a Master's degree in Human Nutrition from Berkeley in the 1960's and went on to work as a staff nutritionist at the Pediatric Artificial Kidney Center at San Francisco General Hospital. This was followed by a move to Albuquerque where he worked for the Dairy Council. It was during this time that the pull of making jewelry began to take root. He sought a teacher and found Robert Henion. Robert was his teacher, mentor and friend. Making sculptural jewelry would become a lifetime passion. During these early years as a jeweler he also played music in various venues in Albuquerque with the band Three Legged Willie. Flute, saxophone, guitar, banjo, there was no instrument he didn't want to try out and try to master. During his decades as part of the Albuquerque art community he served on various boards, was a juror for local shows, and participated in scores of arts and crafts events. In the 1990's he ventured into the national venues, doing shows from San Francisco to Baltimore, making his jewelry available across the country. He also made mixed media pieces, many of which were a reflection of his view of sound design coupled with quirky and unlikely materials. During his last year and a half he had the good fortune of finding a part time job that gave him absolute joy. Both of his Grandfather's had worked for the railroad out of Dodge City, Kansas. Now here was Jas, driving a train for the Albuquerque Biopark, falling in love with the animals, finding a new family with his fellow engineers and conductors. He loved going to work.

He leaves behind many friends. He also leaves behind his wife/ex-wife/companion and friend Karen Simmons, and five nieces and nephews; Clare. Abel, James, Amy, and Sarah. No service is planned at this time.

Published in Albuquerque Journal on Nov. 19, 2017