Arlene Simmons

July 15, 1935 - June 13, 2016
Kalamazoo, MI



Tuesday, June 21, 2016
1:00 PM EDT
Valley Family Church
2500 Vincent Avenue
Portage, MI 49024


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

VanderSalm's Flipse
1120 S. Burdick
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
(800) 232-7134
Driving Directions
Web Site

Schafer's Flowers Inc.
3274 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(800) 760-7050
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Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around her, Arlene Simmons was a blessing to everyone she met. She lived to be a wife and mother, and things only got better when her family grew to include the grandchildren she treasured. A woman of faith, she made a positive impact in the lives of so many through her selfless acts of service. Deeply loved, Arlene will never be forgotten.

Arlene was born July 15, 1935 to Nicholas and Helen (Keller) Stermer in Scotts, Michigan. She was the youngest of seven children in her family as she was raised in the family home alongside her siblings, Richard (Dick), Eleanor, Maxine, Donald, Jack and Nick Jr.

Arlene grew-up on a farm in Scotts, Michigan where they raised potatoes, other various commodities and livestock. She attended Pavilion #4 one room schoolhouse and then went on to graduate from Climax-Scotts high school in 1953. While in school she met her lifelong friend, Marcelline Flach. They were close throughout their lives. Arlene and Marcelline served as the maid of honor in each other’s weddings, and to this day their children remain good friends. During her youth, Arlene enjoyed spending her Michigan summer evenings swimming at Pickerel Lake with her mother, other family members and friends.

While on the family farm, Arlene was introduced to her brother Nick Jr’s., best friend, Richard Simmons. During high school Richard and Arlene became high school sweethearts. The couple could be found holding hands on the school bus. Richard served in the U.S. Army, with a majority of his time being stationed in Colorado Springs, Colorado. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Arlene and Richard were married May 8, 1954 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan. As a young bride Arlene moved to Colorado where Richard was stationed. While there Arlene worked in Colorado Springs. The young couple returned to Kalamazoo in 1955.

Family life began for Arlene and Richard upon their return to Michigan. Together she and Richard welcomed and raised seven children: Rich Jr., Phyllis, Diane, Lori, the twins Andy and Ann, and Joe into their hearts and home beginning in 1956. Arlene was a stay at home mom who lived for her family. She was there for whatever her kids needed, even if it meant watching them out in the pool at midnight since they had no air conditioning! Arlene took great joy in cooking for her family and friends, they were especially fond of her French Toast (soaked in powdered sugar and butter). She took every opportunity to tell her family that she loved them, and she was thrilled beyond measure to enjoy 8 granddaughters and 8 grandsons. She recently welcomed a great-granddaughter into the family. Arlene absolutely adored her grandchildren, and is has been said that she was the best grandma in the world.

Throughout their 62 years of marriage, Arlene and Richard were true companions who just enjoyed being together. They often took short day trips to places like Shipshewana and South Haven since she loved the beach. Arlene made even the ordinary days extraordinary, but she went all out for special days like birthdays. She made the most amazing birthday cakes for her kids, and this later gave way to her putting her gift into making the most elaborate wedding cakes. She extended her talent of cake decorating to relatives with anniversary, wedding and graduation cakes. Arlene had the privilege to make the wedding cakes for her four daughters. Arlene enjoyed reading, various crafts, sewing, and keeping the family garden. She enjoyed being social throughout her life. After her children were grown Arlene returned to the work force and worked for several locations including 10 years at UpJohn’s. In her later years, Arlene enjoyed being a part of the Red Hat Society. She also had the opportunity to travel to Russia two times with the Kalamazoo – Pushkin Partnership Delegation. In 2007, Arlene and Richard had the trip of a lifetime, a month in Hawaii! Two weeks were with a travel group and then their son, Joe, joined them to finish out the trip.

From 1954 to 1996 Arlene and Richard were members of St. Joseph Catholic Church. Arlene became a born again Christian in the 1970’s leading to a transformation of how she lived her life. Arlene’s transformation ministered to Richard, her children, grandchildren, other family members, and friends. For the past 20 years, Arlene and Richard have served and are members of Valley Family Church.

When reflecting on the life of Arlene Simmons, it is easy to see how she impacted the lives of others. She was loving, genuine, gracious, and outgoing, which drew others near with ease. Arlene was blessed to share the majority of her life with her true love, Richard, and together they witnessed their family tree blossom to include numerous branches of loved ones who made her heart sing with joy. Life without Arlene will be a new normal, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.

Arlene M (Stermer) Simmons, 80, of Kalamazoo, MI went to be with her Lord and Savior on Monday, June 13, 2016 with her family by her side. On May 8, 1954 she was married to Richard W. Simmons who survives. Also surviving are her children: 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. 8 granddaughters - Linley, Jodi, Danielle, Shelby, Kealey, Kendall, Mackenzie, and Alana. 8 grandsons – Michael, Phillip, Eric, Luke, Colin, Garrett, Johnathon, and Jacob. And 1 great-granddaughter, Abigail. Also surviving is a sister, Maxine (Clarence) Miller, 1 brother-in-law, and 3 sister-in-law’s, numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; a son, Rich Jr.; 1 sister; 4 brothers; and 1 sister-in-law.

A private family burial has ready taken place and celebration of Arlene’s life will be held at 1:00 PM on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at Valley Family Church Cathedral, 2500 Vincent Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49024, with Pastor Jeff Jones and Pastor Pam Roe-Vanderberg officiating. Memorials may be directed to the charity of your choice. Please visit Arlene’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can read her life story and sign her guestbook.