Christine Simmons, a former long-time resident of Chillicothe, loving mother of two, grandmother of four, great-grandmother of eight, and one of the iconic “Rosie the Riveters” during World War II, passed away peacefully in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Saturday, September 10, 2022, at the age of 103.
Christine Limes Simmons was born on August 1, 1919, to Lewis and Bernice (Ellington) Limes on a farm near Dunlap. Bernice died suddenly of an aneurysm in July before Christine™s first birthday. Unable to care for an infant alone, Lewis sent Christine to live on the family farm with Bernice™s sister, Ethel. Lewis remarried when Christine was five, and she moved back to the farm in Dunlap with her father. In October of 1935, when Christine was a junior in high school, she lost her beloved father suddenly as well, when he was murdered in what we would now call a “carjacking.”
Despite the tragedy, Christine graduated from Trenton High School in 1937 and went on to junior college at North Central Missouri College, where she earned an associate degree in 1939. She then went to Kirksville State Teachers College in the fall of 1939, where she met and married RW Simmons. After their wedding in 1940, Christine and RW moved to Bowling Green, Missouri, and then to DeSoto, where RW, an excellent musician, taught band, music, and science before he was drafted into the Army in 1942. They moved to Chicago, IL, for RW™s service, where Christine took a job in a steel plant and became one of many “Rosie the Riveters” who worked during the war. In their free time, Christine and RW enjoyed life in Chicago, even dancing in the old Aragon Ballroom. Christine and RW moved together to several training locations “ New Haven, CT; Clemson, SC; and Montgomery, AL, where their daughter Janice was born in 1945.
After RW™s service ended, Christine and RW moved to Memphis, TN, where RW attended Southern School of Optometry on the GI Bill and Christine helped support them by working in a dress shop. Upon RW™s graduation, they moved to Chillicothe, where RW opened an optometry practice. They set up their permanent home and eventually became known to all as, simply, “Doc and Chris.” Their son, LJ, was born in 1949. Over the next twenty-plus years, Chris was a homemaker, mother, and active community member. She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, Culture Club, and an active mother supporting her children in Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and PTA. One of her proudest accomplishments was being involved in the creation of “The Girl Scout Little House.” One of her greatest joys was following LJ™s football career through high school and then at William Jewell College. She was active in the group of women who created the “Chrismons,” handcrafted Christian symbols that decorated the Christmas tree at the First Presbyterian Church for many years.
After her children were grown and gone, Chris became an avid canner, delighting friends and family with her lime sweet pickles, elderberry jelly, and jalapeno pepper jelly. She also became a skilled knitter, making blankets for gifts that keep family warm until this day. She developed an interest in genealogy and traced her father™s family back to the point in time where she qualified to become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and later, the Colonial Dames. As a grandmother, Chris was always the designated holiday piemaker. Her strawberry pie and pecan pie recipes are legendary, and copies written in her handwriting still sit in her daughter™s recipe box. Chris could always be counted on to eat as many pecans as she put on her pie while baking at the holidays. She loved chocolate, too, and always had a stash of semi-sweet Nestle chips in a cabinet somewhere for grandchildren to find and share. Later in life, Chris became a member of P.E.O., the First Baptist Church, and was a 64-year member of Culture Club.
Doc and Chris loved big band music and loved to dance; The Gables was a favorite dinner and dancing destination and celebration spot for the family. She and Doc also loved spending time at the Lake of the Ozarks, where they had a vacation home and entertained family, friends, and grandchildren for many years. Chris was always ready to feed garden-fresh concoctions to hungry grandkids after a ski or swim in the lake, and always ready with a “hi-ball” for Doc and friends at happy hour. After Doc retired and sold his practice, they spent winters in Palmetto, Florida, with several other “snowbirds” from Chillicothe. Doc died in January 2000, seven months before their 60th wedding anniversary. They were happily married until the end, so much so that Chris opted to schedule a root canal on what would have been their 60th anniversary, explaining to her children that she “couldn™t be in any more pain.”
Christine was preceded in death by her mother Bernice, father Lewis, and her beloved husband of 59 years, RW (“Doc”) Simmons.
She is survived by her daughter Jan (Erwin) Pellant of Council Bluffs, IA, and her son, LJ (Judy) Simmons of Fenton; granddaughters Kathy (Pellant) Reed and Jennifer Pellant of Council Bluffs; grandsons Luke (Hanna) Simmons of Gothenburg, Sweden, and Josh (Elizabeth) Simmons of Tulsa, OK. She is also survived by eight great-grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at Lindley Funeral Home in Chillicothe, on Saturday, September 17, at 11:00 a.m. Family visitation will be held at 10:00 a.m. one hour prior to service.
Burial will be held at Rural Dale in Trenton.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Rural Dale Cemetery Association (455 SE 63rd Ave, Laredo, MO 64652).