Edward Simmons, advocate, counselor for veterans - The Buffalo News

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Edward Simmons, advocate, counselor for veterans

Dec. 14, 1950 – July 16, 2013

Edward S. Simmons, of Buffalo, a Vietnam War veteran who assisted thousands of other veterans during his 30-year career as an advocate and counselor, died Tuesday in Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center after a two-year illness. He was 62.

A Buffalo native, Mr. Simmons was a graduate of Cheektowaga High School and served in the Army in 1969 and 1970, including a tour of duty as a medic in Vietnam. Returning from service, he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University at Buffalo.

In 1980, he became the first director of the Veterans Helping Veterans Center in Buffalo City Hall, which offered counseling on employment, benefits and education, then became a local veterans employment representative with the state Department of Labor in 1990.

In 2009, he joined the state Division of Veterans Affairs as deputy director for the Western Region. He retired in February 2011.

A running enthusiast, he organized the “Who Dares Win” relay runs from Buffalo to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Boston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to call attention to the need for jobs for veterans. The runs culminated in a cross-country relay to San Francisco in 1996. He also organized a 24-Hour Run for Jobs in Delaware Park.

He competed in numerous marathons, including the Marine Corps marathons in 1995, 1996 and 1998.

In the early 1980s, Mr. Simmons helped establish the Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program locally, which awards college scholarships to children and grandchildren of Vietnam War era veterans.

He also was a founding member of the Veterans One Stop Center of WNY, which opened in April. He was a member of an early advisory board and served as co-chairman of the board of directors.

He also was a member of the advisory committee of the Buffalo VA Medical Center.

Survivors include his wife of 37 years, the former Onda Dodson; and three sisters, Dianne Szczerba, Marie Evans and Mary Tynan.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday in Parkside Lutheran Church, 2 Wallace Ave.

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