Loretta Marie Simmons passed away at the Gunnison Senior Care Center on June 1 after being a resident at the center for almost eight years.
Loretta was born in Albuquerque, N.M., on Oct. 4, 1921 to Alice and Rufus Willey. She graduated from high school in Gallup, N.M. Following graduation, she worked at the Fort Wingate Ordnance Depot and after losing so many high school friends in the war, decided it was time to do her part. She enlisted in the U.S. Navy and did basic training at Hunter College in New York. After a cross-country train ride, she was assigned to the U.S. Naval Repair Base on Coronado Island, San Diego, Calif. She served as Yeoman to the Operational Training Commander, Pacific Fleet in San Diego. There she met and married Walter Scott Simmons from Clarksdale, Miss., who was serving in the Navy at National City, Calif., at the Amphibious Force Training Center where he was an underwater demolition specialist and Fresh Water King of the USN New Yorker.
Following the war, Loretta and Walter settled in Albuquerque and had two daughters, Kathy Simmons Spear of Gunnison, Colo., and Barbara Simmons Sultemeier of Albuquerque. They eventually moved to Farmington, N.M., where Loretta worked as a real estate agent. Walter preceded her in death in 1980.
Loretta was a “hands-on” grandmother, taking the kids skiing at Cranor Hill after school or fishing at Navajo Lake. She became a “groupie” following a folk singing group all over the Southwest and instilled love of music in her grandkids. She was an amazing cook and could take one pork chop and feed the whole family, although the cleanup was horrible. She loved people and could and would talk to anybody. She read the paper front to back every day. And she was kind and loving in every way.
Loretta spent a good part of every year in Gunnison thus becoming her second home before taking up residence at the Senior Care Center where she received loving care from all the staff from the administration, nurses, CNA’s, housekeeping, kitchen staff and everyone. She often said, “I love it here. I can’t imagine being anywhere better.”
Loretta is survived by her daughters and sons-in-law, Ralph Spear of Gunnison and Steve Sultemeier of Albuquerque, N.M., as well as grandchildren Dr. Jenna Crabb and husband Wes and Brent and Michelle Sultemeier, Albuquerque; Erin Spear, San Diego, Calif.; and Scott and Brittany Lang Spear, Dolores, Colo.
Also, great-grandchildren, Lauren, Matthew and Katelyn Sultemeier, Albuquerque, N.M. She is also survived by her younger brother Larry Willey of Albuquerque. Her older brother, Eugene Willey, Thornton, Colo., and parents also preceded her in death.