Memorial service for Mr. Braxton Marcie Simmons Sr., 82, of Hazlehurst, who died peacefully at home Friday morning, Dec. 20, was held Dec. 23 at Wainwright-Parlor Funeral Home.
The Rev. Thomas Simmons and Mr. R.W. Kerns officiated with burial in Satilla Church Cemetery, with military honors.
Born July 11, 1937 in Hazlehurst, he was the son of the late Marcie Douglas Simmons and Mrs. Runnell Riner Simmons Arnold.
Braxton is survived by his wife, Evelyn Henderson Simmons, of Hazlehurst; a son, Braxton M. Simmons Jr. of Hazlehurst; two daughters, Mrs. Robert S. (Beverly Simmons) Shelley of Pawleys Island, SC and Mrs. Pat (Janet Simmons) Jones of Anderson, SC.
Braxton is survived by grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The grandchildren are Kieran Faulkner, Kristy Shelley Mack, Amber Shelley, Traci Shelley, Kyle Shelley, Marcie Boston Bunch, Corey Jones, Megan McCracken Filorimo, Greg Harberson, and Ryan, Katie and Caleb Lee.
Braxton was predeceased by two brothers, Alton Simmons of Twin City, and Paul Thomas Simmons of Hazlehurst and a sister, Mrs. James (Jeanette Simmons) Wasden.
Braxton grew up in Hazlehurst, the son of a sharecropper. His early life having to contribute daily to the family’s survival – household chores, farming, gardening, hunting – shaped his outlook on life, his values and his love for the land and the outdoors. He believed in the importance of the family unit, and in being self-sufficient, creative and resourceful.
Braxton attended Satilla Elementary and Middle School and graduated from Jeff Davis High School in 1955. He trained as a blacksmith in Savannah, for nearly two years before joining the U.S. Navy in 1958. He served in the Navy until 1977, retiring as a Chief Petty Officer. While in the service, Braxton worked for 10 years as operator and instructor on aviation devices and another 10 years on submarine devices, including flight simulator and diving trainers. He completed boot camp in San Diego, CA, prep school in Norman, OK, Class A school and Class B school in Memphis, TN. During his career, he served in Kodiak, Alaska, San Diego, CA, Brunswick, Memphis, TN, Milton, FL, Groton, Conn. and Charleston, SC. He and his wife, Evelyn, made life-long friends in each duty station who became like family. Braxton often talked fondly of his tour in Alaska, remembering the vast and scenic unspoiled vistas.
While still in the Navy Braxton started work on a personal goal to earn a college degree. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration as a “mature student” from The Citadel, graduating in 1982. From 1977 to 1982, he worked for the Charleston County Schools, and later managed the physics lab at the Citadel for nearly 10 years, retiring in 1992.
Braxton returned to Hazlehurst, in August 1992 to help care for both his wife’s and his own aging parents. During his retirement, Braxton thrived on gardening, tinkering and fixing broken things, tending his beloved farm animals, exploring family history and “chatting it up” with anyone who came to visit or anyone whom he encountered in daily life. He often said he felt closest to God when he was in his vegetable garden. One of Braxton’s most favorite past time was to grow sugar cane and make cane syrup – the old-fashioned way – each fall. Braxton loved learning, was inquisitive and had a wide and deep knowledge base, often sharing obscure historical, scientific and/or cultural facts as a way to start a conversation with family, friends and new acquaintances. Members of the Hospice team who helped care for Braxton in the last months of his life commented that they enjoy coming to see Braxton because they learned something new every time they visited.
One of the ways he will be remembered is how he expressed his affection: Whether one of his children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins or friends, Braxton’s trademark expressions of love were “come here and let me squeeze your neck” or “come here and give me squeeze on the neck.” More recently, he had learned and often used the expression I-L-Y (I love you).
For 27 years, Braxton and his wife, Evelyn, hosted the annual Henderson-Odom reunion – a 2.5 day gathering at their farm on Bell Telephone Road. He took great joy in helping bring together members of the family.
Braxton was a member of Salem Baptist Church in Summerville, SC, the Jeff Davis Young Farmers and the National Rifle Association. Another of his great joys in life was to share the bounty of his garden with friends and family and to use his knowledge and assorted skills to help others in the community.
During the last several years of his life, despite numerous health challenges, Braxton near daily expressed his gratitude for being blessed with another day of living. At the same time, though, he expressed that he has lived a good and full life (I’ve done what I was put on this earth to do,” he would say.) He said he had no regrets, and that he would be at peace if today was his last day of life.
Rest in peace, Braxton
Active pallbearers were Brad Wasden, Christian Wasden, Doug Wasden, Rusty Simmons, Marcus Simmons, and Heath Simmons.
Honorary pallbearers were Kyle Simmons, Corey Jones, Keiran Faulkner, Brian Bunch, Stacy Head, Steve Crumpton, Eric Crumpton, Hoke Henderson, Paul Smith, Wayne Herndon, Marcus Trowell, Larry and JoAnn Trowell and Edgar Trowell.
Musical selections were rendered by Brenda Wasden and Linda Carpenter Sharpton.
Wainright-Parlor Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.