The last of the victims of the Charleston church shootings to be eulogized was remembered Thursday as a man known by the nickname “Super,” who lived his life with a driving force to serve his fellow men and his God.
Family members, religious colleagues and school friends packed the pews Thursday at the Bethel AME church in Columbia for the funeral of 74-year-old Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr.
Simmons is the last of the nine victims of the June 17 shootings at the predominantly black Charleston’s Emanuel AME to be buried. They were shot at a Bible study Simmons regularly attended.
A white man, Dylann Storm Roof, faces nine counts of murder in the slayings.
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During the course of his career with the AME church, Simmons served at or was a minister at eight AME churches in the state, his associates recalled.
“This man never rested. He always worked. He always had work to do,” said state Sen. John Scott, D-Columbia, in remarks at the funeral.
“He had a driving force to take care of other people,” Scott said.
Many of those attending were colleagues from Simmons’ days at Allen University, where he earned an undergraduate degree in education administration. He earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and a master’s of divinity from the Lutheran Seminary in Columbia.
Simmons had worked as a counselor and teacher at the state’s Department of Corrections and as a counselor with the Veterans Administration in Columbia. Speakers also recalled his varied days working as an insurance broker, a bus operator, and an active member of the AME church across the state.
One of his school fellows recalled they became great friends because they shared the same last name, but weren’t related.
“Everyone called him “Super” because he was a super kind of guy,” recalled the Rev. Michael Simmons of Dayton, Ohio.
Simmons said his friend gave young ministers advice and assistance in learning to preach. His work colleagues could count on him for job advice and his family could count on him for consistency and constant care. But Michael Simmons said he considered his friend Dan more than a brother.
“He was a ‘Super' man. He was a ‘Super' friend,” Simmons said.
Simmons’ daughter, Rose Ann Simmons, of Chesapeake, Virginia, recalled that her father may have been a stern parent, but always a loving one who treasured his family and one who’d risen above tough beginnings in rural South Carolina.
“There were many hurdles in his life,” his daughter said, but he worked hard to overcome them.
Her father remained a man of great religious faith, right up until his death, she said.
Simmons was attending a beloved Bible study on the night he was shot.
In his last moments, she said, Simmons enjoyed “a strong finish. He fell at the feet of Jesus!”
Her comments received a wave of applause and approval from the hundreds who packed the sanctuary.
The service began with ministers reciting Scripture. An American flag was draped over the casket and the congregation sang as the service got under way.
A video compilation of photos of his days with his family and time as an Army veteran was displayed on the screen in the sanctuary.
Simmons was to be buried later in the day at Fort Jackson National Cemetery located at the Army installation near Columbia.