Ivan Joe Simmons

Joe Denoyer - August 27, 2021 4:14 pm

Ivan Joe Simmons was born in Ulysses, Kansas, to Ivan Joseph and Nellie Irene (Rankin) Simmons on March 23, 1934. He passed away on August 26, 2021, at Morton County Senior Living Community in Elkhart, Kansas.

Ivan attended Elementary School at Rolla, Kansas, and has a lot of great memories and many friends from that area.

Along with his parents, and his younger sister, Verna Lee, they moved to Elkhart, Kansas, in the fall of 1948 when he entered his freshman year and became an “Elkhart Wildcat”! Ivan was very athletic and played football, basketball, ran track and played baseball with the Elkhart Town Team. During his high school years, two brothers, Gary Lynn Simmons and Jerry Wayne Simmons were added to his family.

Upon graduation, he received a four year Football Scholarship to Panhandle State University. He became the nation’s total offensive yard leader among NAIA college football players by gaining 1,624 yards in nine games.

Ivan and Ruth Ann (Brewer) Simmons were married on August 10, 1954, in Elkhart, Kansas, before their junior year of college, but continued with their education both graduating from OPSU in May of 1956 with their degrees.

Ivan was drafted into the U.S. Army after graduating from college in 1956 and served until 1958 as SP-4. He was assigned to the Artillery and Missile Center at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, and served with the Artillery Ballistic Meteorology Division. While serving in the Army he was recruited to play football with the U.S. Army team from Ft. Sill and traveled all over the nation playing against other military base teams.

After Ivan’s release from the military, he became involved in ranching and farming and was actively serving on the following boards: Yarbrough School Board, Chairman of Western Production Credit Association, Texas County Irrigation Association, State and National Cattle’s Association, Elkhart/Eva Equity Co-op, Chairman of the First Church of God Board, Lifetime Member of OPSU Alumni Association, Teacher and Coach at Yarbrough and Elkhart Schools, County Commissioner of District #3, Texas County, Oklahoma, also serving as State President of the County Commissioner’s Association for several years.

In the fall of 1978, Ivan was seriously injured when his right hand and arm were pulled into an ensilage cutter. Fortunately, our oldest son was present at the time of the accident and was able to stop the machinery and extricate him. With the help of several neighbors, he was rushed to the Southwest Medical Center in Liberal KS, where his arm was amputated below the elbow.

We were so grateful and thankful that our family, neighbors and friends gave so completely to us their love and support to help us carry on with the ranching and farming. After much rehab and hard work, Ivan was fitted for a prosthesis. One was built with a hook for work and the other with a hand that would open and close and looked more natural. He soon was back working with the cattle and the farming. Many things were very difficult and frustrating for him as he struggled to carry his part of the work load. He made many trips to hospitals to encourage others who had been injured and were trying to cope with the loss of a limb.

We purchased a car dealership in Guymon, OK, Texas County Chrysler, which we owned for 12 years before selling to Burtis Motors of Garden City, KS in 1987.

In 2006, Ivan was hired as a Landman for Oxy Petroleum and Merit Energy. He worked in the Oil and Gas Industry until 2017 when the offices closed in this area. He enjoyed working with landowners and gas companies and spent many long hours and miles doing his job in this position.

Ivan never gave up and continued to be involved on many boards and activities and keeping up with our wonderful and busy children, Mark Simmons and daughters, Katie and Kara, Gaylen; Candace Simmons Hinch and children, Ashton Lea and Lathe Hinch; and Rick and wife, Jori Worm Simmons and their children, Jordan and Dalli Simmons; and five great-grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life will be held Monday, August 30, 2021, at 10:00 AM at the First Church of God in Elkhart with Pastor Denny Heubner officiating. Inurnment will be held at a later date. Memorial contributions may be given to First Church of God in care of Garnand Funeral Home, PO Box 854, Elkhart, KS 67950. Condolences may be posted at www.garnandfuneralhomes.com.