University of Wisconsin Oshkosh professor emeritus and local government and politics expert James (Jim) Roy Simmons, age 76, passed away Jan. 29.
A visitation is planned from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Fiss and Bills-Poklasny Funeral Home, 865 S. Westhaven Drive, Oshkosh, followed by a public sharing of stories and remembrances. There will be a 1 p.m. lunch at Fox River Brewing Co., 1501 Arboretum Drive.
Simmons earned a doctorate in political science from Indiana University in December 1983 and started working at UW Oshkosh as a faculty member during fall 1989, after having taught at Iowa State University and DePauw University. He retired at the end of 2020.
Simmons was an accomplished empirical social scientist and author. In addition to his over 50 published papers and dozens of shorter research pieces, he was the author of What Government Can Do; Dealing with Poverty and Inequality, published with the University of Chicago Press.
Simmons was an expert in political theory, election forecasting, local responses to environmental regulation and municipal government structures; his research on the forms of local government had real-world impacts on Oshkosh city government.
Simmons held many leadership roles on campus, including three terms as president of the Faculty Senate, chair of the political science department from 1999 to 2011, Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow and dozens of other roles.
In his time at UWO, he received numerous awards for his scholarship, for his service and his teaching; he also was recognized for his success in advising students as well as supporting seven student organizations, which covered the range of political persuasions.
He was born to the late James Roy Simmons and Dorothy Lucy Murray on Aug. 12, 1946 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is preceded in death by his wife Joan Lea Rutan, whom he married in Bloomington Indiana on August 17, 1968 in the Indiana University campus chapel.
Prior to completing his education, Jim served in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1972, ending his service as a legal specialist –JAG Corps at Fort McPherson in Georgia—where he was deeply involved in handling documents associated with the My Lai Trials. He was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal.
Memorials will be taken to fund a scholarship for engaged political scientists for the UW Oshkosh political science department. Gifts can be designated in honor of Simmons.