1994 Greater Flint Afro-American Hall of Fame Inductee
Daughters: Joan, Patricia
Sons: Ronald Frances, Edward Cornelius
Mr. Edward Simmons came to Flint in 1928, after attending Lincoln College from Dayton, Ohio where he had established himself as an outstanding amateur athlete in tennis, basketball, track and baseball. He worked at the Buick factory and for the Y.M.C.A. before joining the city recreation department. He played on the Flint Owls baseball team with such stars as Dodson and Grady Truss, Gus Wells, Wilfred Heller and others.
After leaving Buick and the Y.M.C.A., along with the efforts and support of others, he helped make available sports and playgrounds to black youths. Simmons became Flint’s first black city recreation supervisor in charge of Negro Activities. In 1937, along with others, funds were raised to purchase a house between Wellington and Kennelworth which became the Clifford Street Center.
Mr. Simmons epitomizes the struggle of Flint black athletes. In 1935 he became the first officially recorded appearance of a black tennis player in Flint history. From 1936-37 he was beaten in the Semi-Finals with his opponent becoming the tournament champion. However, in 1938 with a smashing service, a brilliant net game and indefatigable legs, Simmons merely overpowered his opponents. He became Flint’s first black tennis champion. The first champion to win the tournament in three straight sets. First black to represent Flint in a State Tennis Tournament, also the first black to win a State match from Flint. He won the most straight tournament matches and most tournament matches from 1935-1938.
After winning the Flint tournament and therefore winning the privilege of representing Flint in other tournaments around the State, Simmons was denied participation in tournaments held in Owosso, Saginaw and Eastern Michigan league clubs. He played in three National Negro Tennis Association Tournaments.
After 10 years with the City Recreation Department, he retired and left Flint to become Director of the Crispus Attucks Community Center in York, Pa. In 1976 he retired as a Supervisor of Complaint Investigations. For this cause we are compelled to preserve these accomplishments of our black pioneers in sports.
Since his selection for induction into the Hall of Fame, Mr. Simmons passed away in Harrisburg, Pa., at the age of 91. May he rest in peace. Thanks for the history.