James A. Simonds DMD
July 1, 1950 - April 3, 2021
Dr. James Alan Simonds, age 70, passed away peacefully on April 3, 2021, surrounded by his family, who were with him until he took his last breath. Jim's life ended too early. He quietly battled metastatic colon cancer since 2016. Despite enduring three extensive surgeries, many grueling rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, Jim's proclivity for joke-telling and musing on ancient philosophy never ceased. He continued to tell jokes until he was no longer able to speak. Never one to take life too seriously, Jim often sought to break the solemn tension created by his impending mortality. This sense of humor is one of the many wonderful qualities that we will miss about him.
Jim was born in Portland, Maine, and spent his childhood and teenage years in Boston, Massachusetts and Roslyn, New York. After completing high school, Jim returned to Massachusetts to attend Boston University where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy. After graduation, Jim remained in Boston to attend Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. As a newly minted dentist, Jim was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy Dental Corps and was first assigned to the Washington Naval Yard in Washington D.C. After completing his tour in 1979, Jim headed to Louisiana State University School of Dentistry for specialty training in periodontics. He then continued his journey west, taking a job as a professor at the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco. Mesmerized by Northern California's temperate climate and snow-free winters, he decided to set down roots as a permanent west-coaster. After briefly living in Mill Valley, Jim moved to Santa Rosa and practiced periodontics for 40 years. Jim was deeply involved in the Sonoma County dental community. Among other positions he held, Jim was the newsletter editor for the Redwood Empire Dental Society (REDS) for decades, and was very proud of the satirical picture comments he would sneak into each edition. For better or for worse, the newsletter won't be the same without him!
Shortly after settling in Santa Rosa, Jim met Dana, the woman who would become his wife. Jim and Dana got married in 1989 and were happily married for 32 years. They raised two children, Daniel and Michelle, who are now in their twenties. Jim was a wonderful dad. He was very kind and patient, and loved to teach his kids the important values of living an enriching life, including the importance of working hard and being a life-long learner, and doing "random acts of kindness" daily.
Jim lived according to his values and spent his time engaged in the activities he enjoyed and with the people he loved most. Jim spent countless hours reading philosophy, contributing to the canons of periodontal literature, running and exercising at the Parkpoint Health Club and the Fountaingrove Athletic Club. He was also dedicated to the care of the thousands of patients he treated over the course of his career. Jim loved his long career as a periodontist and claimed that he never "worked" a day in his life.
One of Jim's most endearing qualities was his hilarious sense of humor. He would never miss an opportunity to practice his arsenal of jokes on his family so he could be ready to tell his jokes to quell fears of nervous patients or to entertain friends.
Jim is survived by his wife Dana, his son Daniel and daughter Michelle, as well as two brothers Andrew Simonds (Leslie) and Fred Simonds (Carol), three step-siblings, Matt Lauer, April Stone and Laura Weiss, his beloved cousins including Ellen Epstein, as well as many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his Father Edmond Simonds in 2010, and his mother Betty Lauer in 2018.
While Jim's life was cut way too short, he was blessed to have a loving family, many friends, and a profession he loved. He contributed to his community, was an excellent writer and teacher, and was loved and respected by many. He is greatly missed and will be remembered for a blessing. Private services were held.
Thank you to Jim's treating physicians David Nguyen MD and Julia Carnevale MD and Jean Nakamura MD and their respective staffs at Sutter Hospital in Santa Rosa and UCSF. Thank you also to Rabbi George Gittleman for his support to our family through the cancer journey. To our family and dear friends who loved and cared us throughout and helped us take care of Jim, made food for us, drove Jim to appointments and helped us navigate the treacherous road through this cancer journey: thank you from the bottom of our hearts. It takes a village and we are blessed with a wonderful one.
Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Jul. 21 to Jul. 25, 2021.