Written by Juliana Simone
April 28, 2012
Stonington, CT – At the Episcopalian Calvary Church on a sunny spring Saturday morning, Roxane Page Ruhl Simmons was remembered by an exceptional family, their acquaintances and many friends. The program handed out to those who came from near and far to pay their respect to Mrs. Simmons read “In Celebration of the Life of Roxane Page Ruhl Simmons.” The story of her life brought forward by three sons and others close to her exemplified why her life was indeed celebrated.
A program of music, prayer, and remembrance moved the congregation on hand with many emotional moments. Using time as a means to reflect on Roxane Simmons special life, her sons each took a turn remembering their mother’s unique ways.
Chuck Simmons told everyone about her early years, and how she eventually came to marry their father while attending Vassar College in New York, and needing a place to stay for the summer rather than having to travel all the way back to her native Oregon, ended up in Stonington.
Former Congressman Rob Simmons (CT-2) told how his mother was a life long Democrat, and though he was Republican, she would still attend his important public appearances and sit in the back row with a big hat on, so Rob could see from the stage if she vigorously shook her head up and down when in approval, or right and left when in disagreement.
Tom Simmons spoke lovingly about her waning years as they saw her slipping away but how their mother still kept her feisty character to the end, bagging her two Siamese cats to take with her when once again trying to walk away from the convalescent home she believed she did not need.
Heidi Simmons also presented a reading “What is dying?” at the beginning of the memorial and granddaughter Jane Simmons read Epistle Lesson: Romans 8:14-19, 34-35, 37-39. Gospel John 14: 1-3, 27 was read by Lisa Kennedy. A meditation was given by Rev. Dr. W. Alfred Tisdale, Jr. There was also a moving handbell solo that left few dry eyes within the cathedral.
After the service, the immediate family left for a private burial ceremony in the magnificent cemetery nearby. Guests were invited to a reception at the Simmons’ home. In good spirits, the Simmons’ welcomed everyone from political colleagues to dear friends of Roxane’s, and thanked them for coming as some traveled a good distance to be there for this occasion. Former Lt. Governor Mike Fedele and veteran State Rep. Pam Sawyer were among those who attended the service.
Rob, always able to tell a fascinating story at a moment’s notice, told us about the antique clock against the wall. Rob said his mother found the clock and had it restored after some time and research in 1969 to working condition. When she moved out of state from Stonington she naturally wanted to take it with her but realized her new home did not have high enough ceilings to house it. She asked Rob, what should I do? Quick on his feet, he said, mother, leave it here! He mused how this was how they were able to keep this lovely antique.