Opp Native, Bowen Eugene Simmons, PhD, passed away at the age of 90 on December 14, 2019. “Gene” was preceded in death by his parents, Judge Bowen Woodard Simmons and Laura Varina Simmons, and grandparents and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Woodard Simmons. His parents and grandparents are buried in the Opp City Cemetery.
Gene is survived by his sister, Opp native, Helen Simmons Carey. Helen and her husband, Niel Carey, reside in Ellicott City, MD and have two children and seven grandchildren.
Gene trained as a physicist, graduating from Duke University (BS, 1951 and MS, 1955) and University of Minnesota, PhD (1956). Gene was married for 59 years to Joyce Towey Simmons, who he met at the bridge table at the University of Minnesota. They had four children, Sherry Simmons Blyth, Rachel Anne Simmons, Hugh Charles Simmons and Bruce Eugene Simmons.
Joyce and Gene always welcomed friends and family to their home with abundant food, generosity, games and laughter. For most of his career, Gene lived and worked as a scientific consultant and researcher in the Washington DC area. Gene’s interests were wide and varied, including classical music, Alabama football, world history, French cooking, progressive politics and space travel. Gene was a voracious reader, reading five to six hours a day up to the time of his death.
Renowned in his Portland, Oregon retirement community for his lecture series on space travel, Gene was most recently preparing for his third space travel lecture scheduled for April 2021. Gene was thrilled to watch the launch of SpaceX just days before he passed. Gene always looked to the future.