KILMARNOCK—Steven Daniel Simmons passed away on the morning of October 23, 2017, in his home in Kilmarnock.
Steve was born in Washington, D.C., on November 13, 1943.
He was the eldest brother to five siblings, the first son of Willard R. Simmons and Barbara Connelly Simmons, and spent his formative years in Mamaroneck, N.Y., where he enjoyed the comforts and chaos of a large and talented family. He adopted his family’s passion for sailing the Long Island Sound in New York aboard the much-beloved Three Sigma and continued to do so off of the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.
Steve had a curious mind and in his youth, he was the builder of telescopes and go-carts, a self-styled musician who could lose himself in the rhythms of ragtime and in the intimate reverie of a Chopin nocturne.
He often shared the keys with his nieces and nephew.
Everyone would agree that he followed the beat of his own drums.
He shared his enthusiasm for the cosmos as well as cosmology with wonder and mirth. With a gaze of a shaman, he might point out the constellation of Perseus on a starry night. You could find equally weathered copies of works by Carlos Castaneda next to the studies of Steven Hawking in his bookshelves.
He was a gifted and accomplished mathematician and received his bachelor’s in psychology from New York University in 1966, his master’s in mathematics from the University of North Carolina in 1970 and his doctorate in statistics from Virginia Tech. Steve’s dissertation was in game theory and he continued to study topology during his adult life.
He was also a teacher of mathematics and taught at Smith High School in Greensboro, N.C., in addition to Virginia Tech as a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Mathematics in Blacksburg.
Steve was known as The Computer Man for a host of clients in White Stone, for a time.
While he could be deeply involved with fractals and the spatial properties of our universe he could be equally absorbed and transfixed by the hovering of a local hummingbird or the trill of a Chuck-Wills-Widow. He could be found tinkering with the latest technology, shooting great aerial coastal landscapes by drone, or admiring the dawn on Antipoison Creek with similar fascination and marvel.
Some of his puns were brilliant, most of them were bad, and if you were a friend you will remember his wit and way with words, and how deeply and easily his laughter would come with his head thrown back.
His hugs were bearlike and sincere.
He had a deeply spiritual inclination and while he might remind you that the first law of thermodynamics states that the total energy of an isolated system is constant; that energy can be transformed from one form to another, but can be neither created nor destroyed, he would also gently suggest with a wry smile that the theory of reincarnation parallels science in this way.
Steve would not want you to grieve for him, but instead anticipate and perhaps celebrate, the possibility of meeting up once again on the “Shores of Primeval.”
Steven is survived by his son, Willard R. Simmons and daughter-in-law, Kristen Simmons of Pittsburgh, Pa.; his brother, Peter C. Simmons of Richmond; his sister, Barbara J. Smith and brother-in-law, Richard Smith of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass.; his brother, William R. Simmons and sister-in-law, Wendy Popp-Simmons of Larchmont, N.Y.; his sister, Patricia A. Iorillo and brother-in-law, Rick Iorillo of Fremont, Calif.; nieces, Catherine Otten and her husband, Jim Otten, Robin Smith and Zoe Simmons; nephews, Wendell Smith and his wife, Kate Krueger Smith and Wynn Simmons; and grand-nephew, Heath Otten.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, November 12, in the Chapel of the Currie Funeral Home, 116 East Church Street, Kilmarnock. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to stephenhawkingfoundation.org/donate/; or Elizabeth A Forrester, executive director, The Stephen Hawking Foundation, 32 St. James’s Street, London.