Ralph M Simmons

CLINTON — Ralph M Simmons, born on April 4, 1932, passed away on March 6, 2023.

He was born in Logan County Ky.,  to Harmon and Mary Ruth (Hildabrand) Simmons. Ralph’s family moved to Illinois from Kentucky in 1939. He lived in several Illinois towns before the family settled in Clinton.

He worked at Bianucci’s Ice Cream and Candy during junior high and off and on throughout high school. In the summer after his sophomore year of high school, he worked for Illinois Central R.R. on the section gang and then the signal gang. His first day on the job, he literally met the train at a certain location where it slowed down long enough for him to toss his suitcase and jump on, while still moving. 

He shoveled coal into the steam engine all the way to Minook, Ill. to his first assignment. On his last day of work, he tossed his suitcase and jumped back off near home and finished the job the same way he started it.

Working on the railroad gangs exposed him to a number of skill sets that would benefit him in his early adulthood and lifelong career paths. Many of the seasoned veterans of the industry took him under their wing and mentored him.

While in high school in Clinton, Ralph played on the football team, the basketball team and held offices as class president and student council. He also helped create a basketball team at the Clinton YMCA called the “Outcasts.”

Ralph and his wife were very active in events in Clinton, while living there, as well as during visits in the decades after moving to other cities in Illinois. He loved attending the class reunions over the decades and often spoke of the wonderful memories they had with lifelong friends. Many of these friends were known to prank each other, which made Ralph’s eyes twinkle as the stories were told and retold and enhanced as the stories aged.

Midway through his senior year of high school, he joined the U.S. Naval Reserves and served eight years. This military service took him to many locations around the United States that he enjoyed revisiting in his retirement years.

During his senior year of high school, he accepted a job with Illinois Central Telephone Company. He worked in maintenance, worked with the installers and used his drafting skills. In 1951, he started working as a lineman with Cornbelt Electric. He loved the work as well as his supervisors and co-workers in the lineman industry.

In 1953, Ralph married Diana Dee Breighner at the Christian Church, in Clinton, where they resided after their wedding. In 1955, he was offered a job as a Journeyman Lineman with Illinois Power in the Clinton District in the Decatur Service Area. This service area covered many zip codes in the surrounding counties. Everybody knew Ralph no matter where he went.

In addition to work at Illinois Power, Ralph owned Simmons Tree Service, in Clinton, from 1955 to 1965. He took great pride in providing quality and safe tree service to endless customers. In 1965, Ralph was promoted to assistant electric distribution superintendent to the Galesburg Service Area. In 1971, he was promoted to Maryville, Ill. Service Area as electrical distribution superintendent.

He moved to Granite City Service Area as assistant electrical superintendent from 1975 to 1981. He completed his Illinois Power career from 1981 to 1989 as electrical superintendent in the Granite City Service Area. He retired in 1989 after a full career with Illinois Power.

Following his Illinois Power retirement, Ralph took his electrical and lineman expertise to Miller Construction and supervised line crews to upgrade service on large projects between 1989 and 2001. He worked in Janesville Wis., Carthage Ill., Quincy, Ill., Champaign Ill., Bloomington, Ill., Troy, Ill. area, Coffeen Ill., Keokuk Iowa, Hartford, Ill., and worked with Illinois Power in the Galesburg Service Area.

In between Miller Construction projects, Ralph accepted a job as project manager co-coordinating with Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (SIU-E) and Illinois Power on a three-year project. He supervised replacement of the electrical system from sub-station throughout SIU-E campus. Ralph was then recruited for a large project by Stanley Consultants to be performed in Cleveland Ohio. He retired for the seventh and final time in 2001 to pursue personal interests with his wife Diana.

Ralph dearly loved cooking on the grill with his family, eating pizza with family and following retirement, traveling the country making memories with his beloved wife Diana. In the later seasons of their years, Ralph stated he was so happy with his life with wife Diana and that she was “one of a kind.”

Ralph was preceded in death by his father Harmon Millard Simmons, his mother Mary Ruth Hildabrand Simmons, his sister Virginia Marie in infancy, his brother Frederick Byron, his son Stephen Scott Simmons and his son Ralph Robert Simmons. Left to mourn his loss is his loving and supportive wife Diana Dee Breighner Simmons, his son Tom (Karen), daughter-in-law Ronna, daughter Mary Jo (Larry) and son Curt (Vicky). He is also survived by his grandchildren and great grandchildren, whom he dearly loves.

A private memorial service will be held at a later date.

Memorials may be made in Ralph’s name to American Legion Post 103, 219 N Elizabeth, Clinton IL 61727, Vespasian Warner Public Library, 310 N Quincy, Clinton IL 61727 or Collinsville Memorial Public Library, 408 W Main, Collinsville IL 62234.