September 11, 2023
To know David was to love him. Everyone who ever met David thought they were his best friend. Whether you saw him every week or every other year, it was like you saw him yesterday. Vibrant and kind, he had a way of making you feel like you were the most important person in the world.
David Simmons was born on September 25, 1962 in Watertown, son of Kenneth F. Simmons, Jr. and Joyce Leo Simmons. He was a 1980 graduate of Immaculate Heart Central School and attended Jefferson Community College. September 15, 2012 was his happiest and proudest day when, surrounded by family and friends, David married the love of his life, Scott A. Rennie, with Michelle Circe officiating.
David worked for the NYS Department of Transportation, retiring in 2017 after 33 years of service. He was an integral part of the Watertown arts community and a favorite to Watertown audiences. He has a long history of involvement with community theater organizations and is a TANYS (Theatre Association of New York State) award winner.
One of David’s most notable contributions to the Arts in the North Country began at Watertown High School in the fall of 1988 with a production of “Guys and Dolls” and 50 shows later, alongside his friend and collaborator, Russ Faunce, he concluded with the spring production of “Shrek” in March of 2014. Notable highlights showcasing David’s choreography skills included: “42nd Street” (90 & 99), “My One & Only” (95), “Joseph/Dreamcoat” (97), “Crazy for You” (99), “Fame” (01), “Footloose” (04 & 10), “A Chorus Line” (05), “Cats” (06), and “White Christmas” (09).
In May of 1989 David eagerly boarded a Freeman Bus headed for Busch Gardens in Virginia. That would be followed by seven trips to Disney World, one trip to Disney Land, a half dozen trips to New York City and multiple excursions to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania. David willingly embarked on the most challenging of roller coasters available at each park with Watertown High School Select Choir members by his side.
David spent the better part of two decades being a part of the crowning of the new Miss New York State in Watertown. While his primary purpose for the pageant was choreography, David was the heart and soul of what happened on the Dulles State Office Building stage, particularly backstage. He was the first point of contact in the wings to console those contestants who had hoped for better results and the man who carried the giant bouquet of roses to the winner in celebration of her success. Any pageant contestant who encountered David Simmons can tell you he was always a source of support and encouragement both on and off the stage.
After his retirement from the DOT, David joined his dear friends Kyle and Ticia Aumell as codirectors and choreographer of Stage Notes, returning to his roots of mentoring high school students through theater. He was dedicated to every Stage Notes student and to the organization’s motto of “Performance With A Purpose”. He was especially dedicated to hitting the high school musical circuit to see all his Stage Notes students in their school musicals.
David raised Stage Notes to a triple arts program, offering training that combined the disciplines of acting, singing, and dancing. David’s expertise with choreography was evident in “A Chorus Line”, “Pippin”, “The Theory of Relativity”, “Rent”, and ending his choreography career the way it began with “Guys And Dolls”. He believed that the crowning achievement of his career was “Chicago” in July of 2019.
During the pandemic, David held “Dancing with David” sessions in Kyle and Ticia’s driveway to help keep everyone’s spirits up during a difficult time. David imparted great wisdom to all of his students. Some memorable quotes that Stage Notes students will never forget are “You are always auditioning”, “There is no such thing as I can’t, only I won’t”, “Break A Nail”, “I will be crying in the back with Kyle”, “Gurllll – girl with a U”, and of course…”LMNO!”.
Thousands of students still remember choreography from their high school years because of David Simmons. Say it together…hop, shuffle, step, flap, ball change.
David had a talent for giving the perfect gifts, cooking delicious foods, making amazing cocktails, and telling the best stories. His Christmas decorations, especially his Christmas village, along with he and Scott hosting holiday get-togethers, were the highlight of Christmas time. David enjoyed any reason for a celebration. His favorite pastime was planning a party with a good theme. He enjoyed traveling, especially to Tennessee. Nothing made David happier than doing nice things for the people he loved. David leaves a joyful legacy for all who were lucky enough to know him.
Along with his husband, Scott, he is survived by his two siblings, Timothy A. Simmons and Susan (David) Crump; father in law Allen Rennie; sister in law Patti (Joe) Godlewski; brothers in law Dennis (Paula) Rennie and Matt (Amy) Rennie; several nieces and nephews who called him “Aunt David”; two aunts; and a multitude of close friends. Along with his parents, David was predeceased by his niece Nicole M. Crump and his mother in law Carol Rennie.
Calling hours will be held at Cummings Funeral Service, Inc., Watertown on Monday, September 18, from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM. A reception to celebrate David's life will be on Tuesday, September 19 at Garland City Beer Works at noon. Online condolences to his family may be posted at www.cummingsfuneral.com. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name may be made to Stage Notes, P. O. Box 421 or Walker Center for Cancer Care, 830 Washington St., both in Watertown, NY 13601.