Jack Simms was a 4th Marine Division combat veteran of World War II. He served as a private in a machine gun squad with an infantry company during the Battle of Iwo Jima in February and March 1945. His division received a Presidential Unit Citation. Later Simms was with Marine occupational forces on Guam and in Japan.
The Simms family moved to Auburn from Corvallis, Oregon, when Jack was 11. He graduated from Lee County High School and, in 1949, received a bachelor's degree from API, majoring in English-journalism. He was editor of The Auburn Plainsman his senior year. It was in the newspaper office that he met Jo, his wife to be.
Simms received a master's in journalism from LSU and began a career with The Associated Press in 1951 as a reporter/editor in Atlanta. Subsequently he went to Louisville as bureau chief for Kentucky, Boston as bureau chief for New England and New York as deputy general sports editor.
When the University separated journalism from English in 1974, Simms retired from The AP and became head of the newly formed AU department of journalism. He served in that capacity 18 years. It was under his tenure that the program became nationally accredited. Enrollment climbed from 84 majors to a peak of 198, and demand for graduates frequently exceeded the number available.
Simms served on the Auburn Preservation Commission and the Auburn Cemetery Trust. He twice was selected College of Liberal Arts Teacher of the Year, was in the initial class named to the LCA Academy of Outstanding Teachers and first recipient of the AU Journalism Alumni Career Award. He was a Samford Society member and lifetime member of the AU Alumni Association. Simms was a published author and member of the Marine Corps League.
Jack Simms passed away on November 8, 2016, with his wife and family by his side.