Augustus W. Simms


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  • | 3:29 p.m. April 26, 2024
  • Palm Coast Observer
  • Tributes & Obituaries
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Augustus W. Simms, 92 of Palm Coast, FL passed away March 24, 2024.  Born in Havre de Grace, MD on February 29, 1932, “Gus” attended parochial schools and Howard University in DC, where he graduated with a Masters in Music Education.  

Shortly after graduation, Gus entered the Air Force where he attained the rank of 1st Lt.  He then joined the Air Force Reserves retiring with the rank of Major in 1979.  

On release from active duty in 1957, Gus began teaching music at Howard University; and in 1961 married Yvonne Smith from Iowa.  While at Howard, he played at several clubs around the DC area with notable local jazz musicians such as Dave Yarborough, Quentin Warren, Ben Secundy and Steve Novacel.

In 1996, after retiring from Howard University, Gus and Yvonne moved to Palm Coast, FL.  There he invited local musicians to perform at a jazz concert (An Evening of Jazz) to benefit scholarships to Black students so they could start or continue their Catholic education.  Some of the early concerts were held in school cafeterias and featured singers Jan Crawford, niece of Clyde “Piano Man” Crawford (who also lived in Palm Coast until his death in 2005), and Brenda Pinkelton.  Later, when the concerts were moved to Seton Hall, singers included Linda Coles (related to Nat), Denise Rose and Em Dinopol as well as perennial favorite Dan Burns. He also performed in various clubs throughout Florida and at the Europa Lounge in the European Village until failing health forced him to stop.

A faithful attendee of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic church as long as he was able, Gus was a member of the Black Catholic Guild and their prayer group.  He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus chapters in         Korona and Flagler Beach.

Gus was preceded in death by his parents Philip Scott and Ruth Wilson, step-father John Simms and his wife of 46 years Yvonne (nee Smith).  He is survived by Deanna Johnson (sister-in-law) of MD; long-time friends Rose Thurston (DC) and Carol Gaines (FL) several cousins, nieces and nephews, and many friends from Palm Coast.

The family wishes to thank the staff of Peaceful Home ALF and Gentiva Hospice for their care during Gus Simms’s final days.

Funeral will be Friday, May 3, 2024 at 11 am at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church with Fr. Martin Ibeh officiating.  Interment will be at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in DC at a later date.  In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the SEAS Black Catholic Guild (for St. Martin de Porres statue fund). Thank you. 


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