On Thursday morning, June 11, 2020, Jon Blessing Simmons died of a sudden onset heart attack. He was a Hoosier through and through, born in Indianapolis to Walter and Madge (Blessing) Simmons on October 13th, 1955. Just a day before his passing, Jon joined us for Wednesday night fellowship via Zoom. We (Woodruff Place Baptist Church) heard his spirited laugh and enjoyed his insights into scripture as we shared our time together. Jon loved to be with his church, loved the stalwart hymns and Scripture, loved hard work, and deeply loved his wife Rosita. They were married for 19 years.
He made meaningful deep friendships with many whom the world seemed to overlook. Once you had Jon as a friend, you had a faithful friend who would go with you to the gates of hell and back if need be. HIs reputation in the community was such that people said, “Jon will bend over backwards for you more than anybody.” He was the biggest penny pincher many of us ever knew yet incredibly generous. He always had money on hand in case someone needed a helping hand. He was generous in a way that built mutual friendship and trusted the Holy Spirit to work in the relationship. To many Jon was a father figure where advice and support was found.
Jon loved to travel, and he found in his wife Rosita a companion to enjoy the world. In their travels they always remembered home and would bring gifts back to share with their friends and family. Yet in all his travels Jon loved Woodruff Place neighborhood best. Not just because this was where he lived and where he had fond memories of his youth, but because of the many expressions that are Woodruff. The diversity of people, the close fellowship in the community with his church (just across the street from his apartment!), and the beauty of the four seasons highlighted by the architecture, fountains, and tree filled median. To Jon, Woodruff Place was the best neighborhood in all the world and Jon saw much of the world.
Jon was the owner, property manager, and tenant of Woodruff Place Apartments. He and Rosita embodied a management style that humbly gave dignity and worth to an incredibly diverse tenant population. Many community development organizations try to model something like what Jon and Rosita did in their humble way. What is not mentioned in the leasing agreement, but many found true was that once you leased with Jon Simmons you had a friend who would have your corner for life.
Jon had a deep and profound love for his Lord and that was evident to all who knew him. Jon wrote of himself to his wife Rosita before they were married of this relationship as follows:
My spiritual journey has been very gradual for the most part. A somewhat Christian home. Went to church every Sunday. Read the Bible every day since the age of 12. But something happened to me when I got baptized (very late in life, age 27). I really started to mature as a Christian, and mark you, maturity is often painful and difficult. But if I had known that God would have taken such an interest in me after baptism, I would have done it earlier. I would say that 80% to 90% of my Christian character has been developed since my baptism, and with this, my personal relationship with Jesus and my responsiveness to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Also, my knowledge has grown. I am a lover of all things Christian. These include hymnology (*the study of hymns), church history, theology, and apologetics (=Christian debate or advocacy).
Jon was one of those people who used his mind and thought/read through many things. He was an excellent teacher and loved to think outside the box. Case in point: he posted many of his thoughts on the world and the Christian life on a website he personally ran called jonforpresident.org.
Jon will be dearly missed. We grieve that Jon is no longer with us, but we celebrate he is in the presence of our Heavenly Father and we will see him again. Jon’s witness lives on for Woodruff Place Baptist Church and those who knew him. He joins the great cloud of witnesses cheering us on to run the race of life, to live full of life, generosity and love, and to finish well.
Jon’s memorial will be during the regular worship time of Woodruff Place Baptist Church (1739 East Michigan Street, Indianapolis, IN, 46201) on June 28th, 2020 at 11am. With the reality of COVID-19 the church is taking precautions for gathering. Please refer to our Facebook page facebook.com/woodruffplace for updates and information about the memorial/worship service.