Honoring an EWC Inaugural Alumni Legend

Willis Ivery Simmons (1942-2017


Funeral Services for

Willis Ivery Simmons
Wake: Friday, 7/21 6PM
Funeral: Saturday, 7/21 2PM

Both services will be held at the church
Allen Temple AME Church
241 C St, Lake Wales, FL 33853


Willis Ivery Simmons is a product of Lake Wales, Florida.  He was born June 1, 1942 in Holopaw, Florida.  His parents were Dorell Belton and Amos Simmons, both who are deceased.  His Stepfather, Leroy Peterson, Jr., was a great motivator and support system for him later in life.  He too is deceased.

Willis has been a sports enthusiast since the day he was born, kicking like crazy from the moment he came into the world.  He attended elementary and high school in Lake Wales.  While in high school at Roosevelt High, he received many “Most Valuable Player” awards and honors.  He set all kinds of records in high school.  His great athletic ability and talents followed him as he matriculated at Edward Waters College.  He performed in an extraordinary way during his matriculation at the college from 1960-1964.  He was a first string player all four years at the college.  While in attendance at Edward Waters College, he participated in football, basketball and baseball.

His college football honors and achievements include: leading scorer 1960-1962, leading rusher, 1960-1962, All Conference, 1960-1962, Most Valuable Player, 1960-1962, Outstanding  Athlete of the Year 1961 and the Florida Times-Union Newspaper Award as the “Most Valuable Player” in 1960-1962.  He set many records at the college and lettered all four years of his participation in sports.  “Rambling Red” was a nickname that was given to Willis because of his jet-heeled speed as a halfback, who had a yearning for wide open spaces.  His speed and abilities contributed significantly to the progress of the college and to its community.

While at EWC, he exhibited character, integrity and leadership skills through his athletic contributions, and is still held in high regard by his peers.  He also serves as a positive role model in the community for the younger generation.

Willis served as an assistant coach after his last year in attendance at the college.  In 1964, he helped the team amass a sensational record of 10-0.  Willis was employed by the Polk County School Board for years as a coach and teacher.  He later entered the business sector and was employed by Findlay Industries as a materials manager.  He retired from Findlay Industries in 2004 after thirty seven years with the company.

In ceremonial activities in October of 2009, Willis “Rambling Red” of Lake Wales Florida was inducted into the Edward Waters College Football Hall of Fame.  This is considered one of the highest honors a college player can receive in the field of sports.   This ceremony was held at the Adams/Jenkins Sports and Music Complex in Jacksonville Florida.  He was also recognized as a “Hall of Famer” in his hometown of Lake Wales.   Simmons resided in Lake Wales and was married to a former “Miss Edward Waters College’ queen for forty-nine years, Doris Mizelle Simmons.  He is the father of Jeffrey W. Simmons, Sr., the father-in-law to Gwen Simmons and grandfather to Jeffrey Jr.  and Jonathan Simmons.

Willis attended Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lake Wales where he served on the Board of Trustees and sang in many of the choirs of the church.  Willis, was active in community affairs of his hometown.  An avid supporter of his Alma Mater, Mr. Willis was actively dedicated and committed to whatever areas he was asked to volunteer his time, finances and energy.

​Rest Well Most Noble Tiger



This biography, though revised was used as Mr. Simmons was featured as an EWC Inaugural Alumni Legend on October 12, 2012 in Jacksonville Florida.