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Kennard Joe Simmons entered this life on January 1, 1949. Born to Joe Lynton Simmons and Armedia Simmons (Proctor) at the Pinkston Clinic, he was the third of seven children, and the youngest son. Around the mid 1950’s, the Simmons family moved to the Edgar Ward housing projects of West Dallas, on Holystone, from their previous Munger Avenue location, where Kennard would spend the majority of his childhood and formative years. It is in West Dallas, during a time when almost everyone had nicknames, where he would receive the label “Gotch-eye.” Declared legally blind in one eye, while this may sound like a significant impairment, he would have many more significant impairments that he would overcome. No matter how many or how much of an impairment he would end up having, they never prevented him from having high academic aptitude, playing football, bowling, basketball, boxing, golf, participating in other things, or living life as he wanted to.
He attended George Washington Carver, Sequoyah Middle School, and L.G. Pinkston High School. While at Sequoyah, he became fond of a sport that would define his most passionate interest and engagement, golf. He became a “caddie” for many dignitaries and other golfers who would go to the Brook Hollow Golf Club among other places. Assisting people, is what he loved to do. Things would come full circle for “Gotch-eye,” because one of those he assisted, would have compassion, and later pay the expenses for surgery on his eye. While the surgery didn’t cure his condition, it provided him with additional tools to cultivate his other passion, reading. He would read newspapers often, some of those newspapers, he would use to make money off of a nephew who could read by the age of 3 years old.
Kennard would eventually attend the Job Corps, instead of finishing from Pinkston. He would get his GED, and would attend El Centro, with a focus on accounting. He was about three months away from completing his certifications leading to becoming a CPA and discontinued because life happened.
He and several members of his family would eventually move to the Singing Hills area of Dallas, where his father, mother, and most of his sisters would live, along with a niece and a nephew. His brother Larry lived in close proximity, as well as the other two sisters, Gloria and Beverly, who lived in the Highland Hills area of Dallas.
His first job outside of caddying, was LTV. He would later work for Woolf Brothers in downtown Dallas, the Dallas Times Herald, and lastly Half Price Books, where he would retire from. His love for reading, and enjoyment of learning, allowed him to become well versed in many subject areas. Along with his passion for sports and information, ESPN, TNT, CNN, and the news network stations, became his favorite channels by the time they came into existence. He rooted for all the home teams of Dallas and was a huge Tiger Woods fan during his rise in golf. Whenever he was truly interested in something, he was all the way in. That spoke to his loyalty and long-term friendships he would maintain throughout his life.
Sometimes his knowledge would lead to bantering, as the male human ego can sometimes be easy to activate. That made it difficult at times to engage in conversation without it eventually leading to an ostentatious encounter. He was seldom wrong in his mind, as some of us can be, but it would often be a challenge to convince him of something different than what he had already accepted. It was possible though, did happen at times, and he was able to apologize when he realized something was wrong.
One could ask him any question about any sport, and sometimes any subject area. Not only could he provide an instant answer, but he could also provide the year, and in most instances, down to the exact day. He was a computer before computers were thought of. He was a walking Encyclopedia Britannica, or World Book Encyclopedia (in today’s terms a google search engine or computer storage device).
On February 14th, 2003, Kennard Joe married Norma Jo Porter. While they made no children together, they had two dogs, Sebastian and Emily. He defended those like they were his children, even against family. After Norma Jo’s transition in 2009, he would later have major health challenges that would lead to both of his legs being amputated. He became impacted by an infection. Gangrene. As it went untreated, the results caught him by surprise. This was when he would display one of the greatest resilient attitudes he ever displayed. He didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for him, became even more independent, and still cooked for himself. He went out to pay his own bills at times, only asking for someone to drive, or help when it was impossible for him to do something. It was inspiring to see. He leaves a great legacy of determination and will to live. Despite that attitude, he wouldn’t let go of his comfort since childhood, cigarettes. He knew the consequences, but he was willing to deal with whatever came with the territory.
Even though “Gotch-eye” could sometimes be headstrong or obnoxious at times, he still had a special way with his relatives of showing love. He was well tolerated because he was well loved, and he knew that. He was a “matter-of-fact” kind of person, and would tell a person exactly what he thought without restriction, raw, uncut, and unfiltered (unlike the Benson and Hedges Menthols, Kool Filter Kings, or Newports he once smoked). He always found the time to call and check on family with regularity, even if it was just two to three sentences to see how family was doing. He would say what he wanted to say, then quickly end the conversation after he knew everyone was fine. This would continue until his transition on January 9, 2024.
Kennard transitioned to provide these remaining people opportunity to cherish his memories: his siblings, Gloria L. Humphrey (Donald preceded her in transition), Larry L. Simmons (Fannie), Barbara A. Simmons, Beverly L. Branch (Lorance preceded her in transition), Carolyn K, Simmons, Imogene Simmons, a host of nephews, nieces, great nephews and great nieces, along with many cousins. While he may have departed in the flesh, his soul remains present as he is eternal. He will never be forgotten. He made his final putt on this side, and now we must prepare for ours.