Hundreds celebrate life of David Simmons

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 5:34 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Hundreds attended a celebration of life for David Simmons on Tuesday. He was a beloved figure in Watertown’s arts community.

They may have come from different walks of life, but the hundreds of people gathered at Garland City all shared one thing - David Simmons touched their hearts.

“What teachers get to do and what we see here today with the hundreds of people present is plant seeds that grow forever,” said one of Simmons’ former students, Jeffrey Ginger

Simmons was best known for his involvement in Watertown’s arts community, particularly theater. He served as a choreographer in 50 shows at Watertown High School and continued that work with Stage Notes, a local theater company. Ticia Aumell worked with him at both.

“He was the coolest young teacher and if you ask our returning students in Stage Notes who just did a show with him in July, he was still the coolest,” she said.

Aumell says Simmons’ greatest strength was the connection he formed with his performers.

“He just wanted them to know that they could do anything if they tried. He just believed in everybody. He was everyone’s biggest cheerleader,” she said.

That talent even extended to students that his former colleague Russ Faunce tells us had “two left feet”

“By the time he was done, he had worked his magic and they looked great. I don’t know how he did it. He had some innate ability to make it all happen,” said Faunce, a retired musical director at Watertown High School.

Simmons was also known for his work in Watertown’s Miss New York State pageants where he had a knack for easing nerves.

“He was the first guy that you saw when the top 10 would be announced and then the rest of the girls would dissipate into the wings and David was the man who was there to just use encouraging words to just make everyone feel better,” said Faunce.

David is survived by his husband and two siblings. With the hundreds of lives he’s touched, he won’t soon be forgotten.

“I’m going to miss him very much,” said Aumell.