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Yale 62

Robert Clayton Simmers

Robert Simmers, husband, father of two boys and grandfather to 4 boys, passed away August 1, 2021, at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Fairfax, VA. The cause of death was pulmonary fibrosis. Bob had a strong moral compass. He died peacefully in his own way on his timetable—brave, bold and selfless. He believed life’s priorities were pretty simple: first take care of others, second take care of country, and finally take care of self. In his final words were these principles: “Men, Mission, Self.”

Bob was born on October 4, 1937, in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Captain Clayton Rogers Simmers (USN Retired) and Dorothy Kincaid Simmers. Growing up as a “Navy Junior” he lived in many ports around the country. He graduated from St. George’s School in Newport, R.I. in 1955 and from Yale in 1962. He was a member of Branford College.

He spent 3 years in the US Marine Corps (1957-1960) after taking “time off from college” (too many Saturday morning calculus and physics classes!). After college graduation, he enlisted in the US Army and spent 2 years (1964-1966) as a Lieutenant with the 82nd Airborne out of Ft. Bragg, NC. In 1965 he deployed to the Dominican Republic for 6 months during Dominican Civil War. During his cumulative 5 years of military service, Lt. Simmers ranked near the top of his training classes and received numerous promotions for his military performance excellence.

In 1966 Bob joined the CIA. He was part of the Reports Officer cadre and worked European, African and counter terrorism portfolios with an overseas posting to Europe from 1969-1972. One of his colleagues wrote, “He was fierce in his duty to provide the best intelligence to policymakers and prided himself on getting the answers, conveying the story, and perfect punctuation. His passion for the work was contagious, and long after he retired, colleagues remarked they still employed his teachings to question all, follow the trail, and find the truth.”

In 1996 he retired to a 16-acre farm in Hillsboro, VA where he and his wife restored a 250 year-old log house, a 150 year-old farmhouse and 3 historic barns. They added beef cattle, 2 donkeys and laying hens. They grew fruit trees, made hard cider and strawberry jam and had a summer vegetable garden. Together they traveled the world by bike, boat and bus. Bob and Sandy rarely missed their sons’ sports games, throughout high school and college years, although they were never sure who to root for when the boys played against each other. One of Bob’s only regrets in life was not being able to spend more time with his grandsons and watching them compete.

Bob is survived by Sandra, his wife of 58 years and their two children: Clayton and his wife Susan (Hailey, Idaho) and their children Corwith and Lachlan; and Taylor and his wife Chelsea (Truckee, California) and their children Sullivan and Mickey. In addition he is survived by his sister Ann Simmers Dowling of Charlotte, NC and her children Cynthia, James and Michael.

Mr. Simmers was buried with military honors in the Columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery on May 10, 2022 at 1pm, joining his parents and aunt and uncle who are buried there.

Douglas T. Hall