Remembering Mycologist Simmons ’41

June 5, 2013


Emory Simmons ’41, one of Wabash College's most esteemed alumni scientists, passed away Monday at the age of 93. He helped found the Mycology Society of America 1946 and was awarded the Ainsworth Medal in 2010.

Born April 12, 1920, in Fountain County, he was the son of Floyd and Estel McAlister Simmons. He attended Crawfordsville schools and graduated from Wabash College in 1941. During World War II he served as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Cairo, Egypt. After the war he received his master’s degree from Depauw University and his doctorate in mycology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

After three years as an associate professor of bacteriology and plant pathology at Dartmouth College he entered federal service in 1953 as head of the Mycology Lab at the U.S. Army Natick Laboratories in Massachusetts. Upon retirement from Natick he then taught and conducted research at the University of Amherst. Returning to his hometown in 1987 he continued to research, edit and publish. Instrumental in founding the Mycology Society of America in 1946 he served as president and secretary/treasurer. Other affiliations included the American Association of Advancement of Science, the Botanical Society of America, the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, the International Association of Plant Taxonomy and the Indiana, New York and Michigan Academies of Science, Sigma Xi, Phi Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi and Lambda Chi Alpha.

In 1988 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Kasetsart University in Bangkok, Thailand, where he had worked extensively. Other honors bestowed on Dr. Simmons included Honorary Life member of the Mycological Society of America and Honorary Life member of the World Federation British Mycological Society. At the age of 90 he published “Alternaria: An Identification Manual” in the Netherlands for which he received the first ever Johanna Westerdijk Award. In 2010 he was awarded the Ainsworth Medal for “extraordinary service to international mycology, especially his development, maintenance and preservation of biological resource collection” by the A.M.S.

Dr. Simmons was an avid reader, international traveler and supporter of the Metropolitan Opera. He was a civic supporter of the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County, the Montgomery County Historical Society and Wabash College.

Dr. Simmons was preceded in death by his parents; four siblings: brother George (Eileen) Simmons; and sisters, Minnie (Gene) Layne, Mary (Kenneth) Strong and Florence “Hootsie” (Bob) Mills. He is survived by five nieces and three nephews.

Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday at Hunt & Son Funeral Home, with Pastor Gary Lewis officiating. Burial will follow at Waynetown Masonic Cemetery. Friends may call one hour prior to the services Monday in the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Montgomery County Community Foundation.

Online condolences may be made at


Wabash College • P.O. Box 352 • Crawfordsville, IN 47933 • 765.361.6100