Neil Emerson Simmons, a life-long missionary and teacher of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, passed away from complications of covid-induced pneumonia on September 28, 2021, in Lee’s Summit, Missouri at the age of 81. He was preceded in death by his parents, Wayne E. & Verneil W. Simmons, his brothers Gareth & Dana Simmons, and his first wife Judith A. Simmons (Livings). Neil is survived by his wife, Sally Simmons (Boll), his son Ken Simmons, his two daughters, Tanya Bausback and Marla Trahern, his niece Tara Broadway, his nephew Wayne A. Simmons, eight grandchildren, six great grandchildren and six great nieces and nephews.
Neil was born in Cameron, Missouri on August 24, 1940. His parents found work on the island of Aruba during WWII and there he spent his formative early years. After the war, his family moved back to Missouri for a short time and then to Costa Rica, Central America where his father was a principal of an American school. It was there that his father taught him the gospel and was baptized—being the first person in the Church to be baptized in Latin America. Later he moved with his family to Caracas, Venezuela where his father worked for the US government as the head of the American cultural center in the US Embassy. In 1950, Neil’s family moved to south Texas, where he completed his primary and secondary education, graduating from Weslaco High School in 1958. After graduation, he felt the Lord’s call to go to Honduras where he served as a volunteer missionary for one year where he baptized the first people in that country.
In 1960, Neil returned to the states and attended college while also working full-time at State Farm Insurance headquarters in Bloomington Illinois. It was there he met his future wife, Judy. They were married in June of 1961. Neil received a BA in Spanish and Social Sciences from Illinois State University in 1964. As a life-long learner, he also obtained a Masters in Theology from the School of the Restoration and a Masters in Linguistics from the University of Texas at Arlington. He worked under fulltime appointment as a missionary for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, serving for seven years in the East Los Angeles District in California and in Northern Mexico south of the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. He taught school in California, Brazil, Missouri, and Texas. He retired in 2002 after more than 23 years of teaching. He and his parents organized and directed numerous reunion type meetings in Oklahoma in the mid 1980s through 1990 in order to revive the work of the Reorganization and to train new teachers to replicate the same.
Neil’s lifetime love of the gospel and the Book of Mormon guided his ministry and inspired his teaching. One could always find him preaching sermons, teaching classes, or working tirelessly on translations of the Book of Mormon and many other educational materials. In his retirement, Neil resumed his missionary work with travels to Mexico, Belize, Cuba and even several countries in Africa. He was a published author, a poet, and served in the Lord’s priesthood as a Priest, Elder, Seventy, President of Seventy and most recently as a Patriarch. His first wife, Judy passed in 2014 after a long struggle with a terminal illness. Subsequently, he was blessed to reconnect with and marry Sally Boll, an incredibly supportive wife. Sally brought joy, hope and most of all, her incredible love into the final years of Neil’s life. They lived in Independence, Missouri for several years and then moved to Lake Havasu, Arizona where Neil continued to write and minister in that area until they moved last December to Woodway, Texas to be closer to family members.
His passions in life were sharing the gospel with anyone and everyone, teaching, traveling, and fishing. He was quick with a pun, loved music and singing in harmony. Neil’s life-long commitment to the Lord inspired and changed countless lives. He was considered by many to be an extraordinary individual and he will be deeply missed. To quote this great man…. “I want to be remembered for always having the Word of the Lord in my mouth”.
A memorial service for Neil Emerson Simmons will be held on Saturday, October 9th from 7:30pm to 8:00pm at the Colbern Road Restoration Branch in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. The short memorial service will begin right at 7:30pm, followed by a time of fellowship and sharing of condolences in the fellowship hall after the service. No refreshments will be served, and the family encourages all covid-safe protocols to be followed (see below). For those who cannot attend in person, the worship service will be live streamed at
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are appreciated. Checks should be made payable to “Mexico Ministries Support Group (or MMSG)” c/o Wayne Simmons, Treasurer at 3205 S. Elizabeth Avenue, Independence, MO 64057.
As we mourn the loss of Neil and the reason for his passing, the family requests all who attend to be especially mindful of the covid safety protocols that we all know well. The very nature of this event makes it vital to protect each other from the spread of the virus and the serious complications that it can cause. If you are feeling unwell or are aware of having had any direct exposure to covid, the family requests you attend the service remotely via live stream. Thank you for your kindness and understanding in this difficult time.