Businessman’s generosity spread beyond family
Ron Simmons was a successful entrepreneur whose shrewd business sense was matched by his kindness.
Ronald Arthur Simmons of Collier died of a heart attack in Naples, Fla., on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. He was 70.
“He had a tough exterior. He was a tough businessman. But when it came to his friends and family, he had a heart of gold,” said his daughter, Tiffany Menyhart of Chicago.
Mr. Simmons founded the company that eventually was called Simmons Business Systems in 1975.
The company’s focus would shift several times. He started by selling money-handling equipment from a cash register manufacturing company in Wisconsin. As technology advanced, he switched to selling IBM typewriters before finally moving into office equipment such as copiers and fax machines.
Throughout his life, he was a strong supporter of charity and an avid sports fans. Through a lengthy partnership with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Mr. Simmons would donate money every time Mario Lemieux or other favorite Penguins scored a goal. Over the years, he funded the wishes of more than 10 children with life-threatening injuries.
He established the first endowed athletic scholarship at his alma mater, Edinboro University.
“He liked people to be successful. He wanted them to be successful,” said his wife, Evelyn Simmons.
She remembered her husband as a loving man who took her on trips to London, Paris and other far-flung destinations.
“He was always surprising me,” she said.
These surprises extended to his sense of humor.
“He proposed to me on April Fool’s Day. I thought it was a joke,” she said.
Mr. Simmons sold his business and retired in 2005, splitting his time between Pittsburgh and Florida.
His daughter attributes much of her success to lessons learned from her dad throughout childhood. She is a sales director for the Wrigley Co. in Chicago.
“We always had a lot of laughs together, and a lot of good times. He was an extremely proud businessman. A lot of the strengths and confidence I have in business comes from my dad,” Menyhart said.
“He was one of my best friends,” she said.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Simmons is survived by his grandson, Maxton Menyhart; his sister, Cynthia Simmons, and his brother, Robert Simmons.
Friends will be received 1 to 9 p.m. Sunday in William Slater II Funeral Service, 1650 Greentree Road, Scott. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. Monday in St. Barbara Church, Bridgeville.
Jacob Tierney is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6646 or [email protected].