In Loving Memory of Tom Simmons who worked so tirelessly and so enthusiastically to innovate and support wonderful events on behalf of all downtown.
Joseph Thomas Simmons was born April 21, 1940, in Detroit, Michigan. When he was 2, the family moved to Kentucky, then to Missouri, and then to Kokomo, Indiana, near his grandparents. Tom remembered good times around the woodstove, carrying water to the house, and using an outdoor privy. Later the family moved to Oak Creek Canyon in Arizona, spending the summer in tents until his father, a carpenter and contractor, built a house in Phoenix. His sister married there, and Tom's brother and brother-in-law both enlisted to serve in World War II.
The Simmons family's last move was to Santa Ana, California. While he lived there, Tom's brother, Bob, gave him a book of Frank Lloyd Wright, kindling Tom's desire to learn more about architecture. He mowed lawns and worked in an aquatic park, saving his money to start his collection of books on Wright.
Tom was pleased when Disneyland was built nearby, and he celebrated a birthday with a ride on the teacups. Tom and his nephew, Terry, shared a birthday and developed a tradition of buying ice cream bars or a cake and distributing the treats to neighbors. Even this year, his wife recalls, he bought cupcakes and shared them with downtown merchants.
While he was still in California, Tom was drafted into the Army, and served at Fort Lewis. A journeyman carpenter, he was assigned to a facilities group of civilian contractors. His first big job was in Needles, California, building 10-hole outhouses. While working at Fort Lewis, Tom fell off roofs twice and was nicknamed "Twinkle Toes."
At a Christian Science Church service on the base, Tom met his wife, Marty. When his tour of duty was over, they were married. Tom attended Tacoma Community College, then the University of Washington, where he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in architecture.
Tom was licensed and practiced design for the Boeing Company. A guardhouse, a gymnasium, and several office buildings in Bellevue bear his design. His last big project was overseeing other architects on a 26-acre building at the north end of SeaTac Airport which houses spare parts for Boeing planes.
When Tom retired, he worked with Marty in their apparel and antiques business, using his skills to design interiors for their stores. He loved to garden with her, and the day before he died, he planted 12 flowers and five shrubs. He also took over much of the cooking at home, a learning situation for a man whose family insisted he once tried to mash potatoes before cooking them.
Tom was the moving force behind the Shelton Downtown Merchants, coming up with events and contests to help promote hometown businesses.
He will be greatly missed, and his shoes impossible to fill.
Shelton Downtown Merchants