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Born the 5th of 7 children to Richard and Flora Simmons Sr., Richard Jr. entered the world on October 18, 1943 and grew up on John’s Island, SC. Still a child himself, Richard took it upon himself to look out for others. Not only did he work on his family’s farm, at 14 years old, he also drove the school bus dutifully picking children up and dropping them off. In 1961, Richard graduated from Haut Gap High School and with a sack of rice, soon set out to follow the footsteps of his uncle, Art Simmons, in Seattle, WA.
Upon arriving in Seattle, Richard became a member of Greater Mt. Baker Baptist Church and was baptized in the faith there in 1961. Starting out in his new city, Richard was never one to be idle. He wore holes into his shoes while walking, knocking on doors looking for a job. He landed a spot washing dishes for the HUB University of Washington. Months later in 1962, Richard started his civil service career at the United States Postal Department as a Clerk. In 1965 he joined Union Lodge #43 F &AM and was raised to the degree of a Master Mason. Yet again, answering a higher calling, Richard joined the U.S. Army in 1966 and served as a Military Policeman in Germany.
After serving in the Army for 3 years, Richard returned home to Seattle and continued his civil career working for the Post Office which became the United State Postal Service (USPS) in 1970. He rose through the ranks as 204B Supervisor and later promoted to the position of Supervisor of Mails. Hard-working and well respected by his peers and upper management, he received many awards, plaques and citations. Richard’s career with the Postal Service spanned nearly 48 years before he retired in 2008.
In 1972, he married the love of his life, Laura E. Carter and they shared 4 children: Lavenia, Ryan, LaTisha and Benjamin. Richard adored his wife and they built a life together over 51 years of marriage. Richard always wanted his own family and was a great provider. Family life around the Simmons’ household was a hub filled with laughter, food, sports, Spades and love for all who entered. Richard had a love of music, often bobbing his head to the beat while listening through his over-the-ear headphones. You might even catch him dancing the “Funky Chicken” in the living room, smiling ear-to-ear! That love of music spread to his children. He taught them to always “have a song in your heart”.
While raising his family and growing his postal career, Richard never missed a beat in his calling to service. He continued active membership in his lodge and served in several positions over the years, including as Worshipful Master in 1983, 1998 and 1999. That year, he also became a member of Prince Hall Consistory #67. His passion for serving the youth expanded to focus on The Knights of Pythagoras. And even through to the end, Richard served as that organization’s State Youth Director. For Grand Lodge staff, he served for many years including as Grand Bible Bearer. In 2003, Richard became a Noble in Beni Hassan Temple #64 and served as Illustrious Potentate.
After a lifetime of love and service, on December 27, 2023, Richard transitioned from this earthly life into God’s eternal presence. Preceded in death by his parents Richard and Flora, brother Grant (Vivian), his sisters Dorothy and Ernestine, Richard is lovingly remembered by his wife Laura, children Lavenia (Derek), Ryan, LaTisha, Benjamin, his siblings Letha Mae, Tina Marie, John (Beatrice), and a wide circle of family and friends. Known for his infectious giggle, love of Black History and strong faith, Richard was a source of strength and joy to all who met him.