One of the saddest phone calls I received from my son Darin was to tell me of Randy Simmons passing. I have known Randy for more than two decades. First and foremost, Randy was a wonderful family man. I remember so many races seeing Randy and his beautiful wife Patti running together, and they always enjoyed being together.
Randy was an outstanding educator, a very popular teacher in PPS for many years, plus a very tough and caring administrator at Peoria High School. I know personally from my grandson who is a junior at Notre Dame High School that Randy was beloved by the students. He made it a point to not only teach from time to time but to regularly walk the halls and constantly talk to students, always inquiring about their progress and well being.
He knew many of the students on a first name basis. Randy was considered a strong leader for the faculty and entire school staff. Randy will long be remembered for his dedication to the young people he served so well during his four decades in education.
Recently, I spoke at a Rotary International Peace Conference in California. My speech focused on leadership. I used the illustration of my grandparents who came to Central Illinois in 1895 from Lebanon. They did not speak a word of English but through the use of three strongly held values they integrated into the community. The three values included working hard, playing by the rules and faith in God. These three values enabled my grandparents to live wonderful lives, raise their four children and take advantage of living the American Dream.
I also empathized the importance of the strong foundation my grandparents laid for their children and grandchildren. Their example allowed me to stand on their shoulders in terms of achieving a college education, becoming a teacher and being involved in public service. I also spoke about the importance of mentoring and leading by example for those you work with in terms of teaching a strong work ethic and the importance of treating people with respect.
Finally, let me say a word about what a positive lift our community received when the Bradley Braves won the Missouri Valley Tournament and for the first time in many years will be playing in the NCAA Tournament. The credit for BU’s success rests with the leadership of BU Athletic Director Chris Reynolds, Coach Wardle and most importantly an outstanding group of players who have worked very hard all year to achieve success. Thank you Bradley Braves for giving the community a boost in an otherwise dreary winter season. GO BRAVES!
Now by the time this column is printed and read Bradley will already have played its first NCAA Tournament games.