U.S. 131 Crash Victim Was ‘Hardworking Man’

Posted at 11:54 AM, May 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-02 11:54:09-04
richard simmons

Richard Simmons, Kalamazoo, Mich.

SCHOOLCRAFT, Mich. – Funeral arrangements have been made for the man who died in an early morning crash on U.S. 131 in Schoolcraft this week.

The crash happened Tuesday morning at the intersection of Lyons Street and U.S. 131. Investigators said several cars were stopped at the light when the driver of a PT Cruiser came smashing into the back of the line. One of the other drivers, Richard Simmons, 58, of Comstock, was killed.

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department told FOX 17 News Thursday that Simmons may have had a seizure at the time of the crash.

Simmons’ funeral is set for Monday, May 5 at 11 a.m. at Threads Church, 5975 Lovers Lane, Portage, Mich..  His visitation is scheduled for Sunday.

The following is Simmons’ obituary:

With quiet faith, Rich Simmons served his church family and community with a caring heart. And all would agree that with his ready smile and great sense of humor, it was a joy to share his company. Rich was a hard working man who loved working with his hands. Mechanically inclined from his earliest years, he used his talent well. Deeply missed, the heart of Rich lives on in those who knew and loved him.

Although conservative in nature, the decade of the 1950s sculpted the culture of America. The golden age of automobiles, everything from music to movies, art and media, to beloved comic strips and cartoons introduced households to a whole new way of life. With manufacturing and home construction on the rise, the economy boomed as the suburban dream was being realized. Amid these exciting times, the Korean War made headlines, and clashes between communism and capitalism dominated the decade. It was indeed a time of change, especially in the lives of Richard and Arlene (Stermer) Simmons of Kalamazoo, Michigan when on January 15, 1956 they welcomed the birth of their son, Richard “Rich” W. Simmons, Jr. into their arms.

The oldest of seven children in the Simmons bustling household, Rich was later joined by his younger siblings, Phyllis, Diane, Lori, Andy, Ann, and Joe. For 35 years his father worked for the Kalamazoo County Road Commission all while running their 60 acre family farm. His mother was a busy homemaker, and from a young age Rich learned firsthand the value of hard work. Everyone pitched in with farm chores and made a concerted effort in keeping things running smoothly.

04-29-14 Schoolcraft fatal US-131 scene PT Cruiser

Photograph from crash scene in downtown Schoolcraft

During his youth, Rich was quite involved and active in 4-H. He was a friend to many, and soon realized his interest in all things mechanical. In school he spent a good amount of his time in shop class where he learned much. He went on to graduate from Comstock High School with the Class of 1974. Although Rich wasn’t much for traveling, he did experience a memorable trip out west in his younger years whitewater rafting on the Colorado River.

While attending his sister Lori’s wedding, Rich met a young woman named Andrea Mosley. They began dating, and were joined in marriage on October 26, 1991. Although their marriage eventually ended in divorce after 20 years, Rich was forever grateful for the son they shared from their union, Luke.

Rich worked as a truck driver for Greenmark Equipment, formerly known as Fillmore Equipment, in Three Rivers. He loved teaching his son all he knew about cars and heavy equipment. Quite talented, Rich had the ability to work with his hands and repair anything he set his mind to. He was also always willing to help a friend or family member in need of mechanical and auto advice.

With his enjoyment of farm life, Rich liked and appreciated the customers he served in and around southwest Michigan. In fact, one of Rich’s favorite pastimes was taking a drive to see all the corn fields and tractors that adorned the rural areas. He loved John Deere tractors and enjoyed his nice collection of toy tractors. When it came to music, Rich loved rock ‘n roll, especially Led Zeppelin and rock station, 107.7. In his free time, he liked watching the Detroit Tigers and NASCAR, particularly Jeff Gordon. And maybe it was from being raised on the farm, but Rich loved drinking milk like many drink soda pop!

For many years, Rich faithfully attended Threads Church in Portage. He appreciated the laid back atmosphere, and the messages that spoke to his heart. Within this community of believers, Rich found in them a church family. Faith to Rich was pretty much black and white. A no-nonsense type of guy, this was especially true when it came to his beliefs and convictions. With an ever present smile, Rich served on the First Impressions Team at church where he greeted all with his warm smile and welcoming ways.

It was easy to see why many called Rich Simmons, friend. With his quick wit and hard working nature, Rich lived a life of faith. More than anything, he appreciated and cherished the family he deeply loved and cared about. Forever remembered, he will indeed be missed.

Richard W. Simmons, Jr., of Comstock passed away on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at the age of 58. Rich is survived by his son, Luke Simmons, of Kalamazoo; parents: Richard and Arlene Simmons, of Kalamazoo; six siblings: Phyllis Jacoby, of OH, Diane (Jerome) Mescher, of OH, Lori (Glenn) Green, Andy (April) Simmons, Ann (Scott) O’Day, and Joe Simmons, all of Kalamazoo; 15 nephews and nieces; and his beloved dog, Winston.

Rich’s family will receive friends on Sunday from 1-4 PM at Life Story Funeral Home, 5975 Lovers Lane, Portage (269-344-5600). The funeral service will be held on Monday, 11:00 AM at Threads Church, 3600 Milham, Portage, with Pastor Peggy Baker officiating. Please visit Rich’s webpage at where you can sign his guestbook, and share a memory. Those who wish may make memorial contributions to the Kalamazoo County MSU Extension 4-H.