Thurman Simmons, legendary coach and teacher, 84, passed away at home on July 24 2015 surrounded by his loving family and friends. He was born April 25, 1931 in Plainview, Texas to Thurman and Martha Simmons. He is preceded in death by his beloved wife of 57 years, Carolyn. He is survived by his four children, Thad Simmons (wife Teri), Ann Clark (husband Steve), Thom Simmons, and Kay Zobrist (husband Scott), and seven grandchildren: Sara, Kristen, Kyle, Jonathan, Caitlin, Jake and Zachary. Thurman graduated from Lovington High School in Lovington, New Mexico. He attended New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, NM before enlisting in the United States Air Force in 1950 to serve his country during the Korean War. He served honorably and was a proud member of the Johnson Air Base Gunners football team, which won the Japan Inter-Service Football Championship in 1952. After four years he was honorably discharged and completed his degree at Highlands in 1955, where he was a football letterman. Thurman and Carolyn married in 1955 and began their careers as educators in the tiny town of Weed, NM. Thurman was a dedicated coach and teacher. In addition to Weed he coached football at Farmington, NM before moving to Arizona in 1959. His teams at Parker, Holbrook, Tolleson, Carl Hayden and Seton high schools won 12 division championships and produced many inspired coaches, loyal teammates and upstanding young men, many of whom continued to make him a part of their lives and came to visit him in his last days. Thurman was named the Arizona Republic Coach of the Year in 1978, the Arizona Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 1979 and the National High School Athletic Coaches Association (NHSACA) District 8 Football Coach of the Year in 1980. He was inducted into the Arizona Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1984. He received the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Outstanding Coach Lifetime Award in 1996 and was named to the NHSACA Hall of Fame in 2001. As a well-known and well-respected teacher and coach, his Catholic faith, loyalty, strength of character and ability to forgive served as a living example to many. He had a lifelong love of aviation and realized his dream of being a private pilot in 1982 and enjoyed flying family and friends in his Cessna to many destinations. Thurman could have been defined solely by his career in football, but to those who were closest to him he was known as someone to depend on for sage advice and heartfelt compassion. A Funeral Mass will be held at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church at 512 N. 93rd Ave Tolleson, Arizona on Saturday, August 1, 2015 at 10:00am In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Hospice of the Valley (www.hov.org
Published by The Arizona Republic on Jul. 28, 2015.