Rocky Simmons Papers
Steven Wynder "Rocky" Simmons (1915-1994) was born in Magnolia, MS to Irvine and Gladys Simmons. The family moved to Bogalusa, LA where Rocky spent much of his youth. A gifted athlete, he was recruited by Wiley College in Marshall, TX to play football and baseball. He became a professional baseball player and played in the Negro Leagues for several teams, including the Bogalusa Tigers (LS) and the Utica Monarchs (NY). He played with such notables as Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson. With the coming of World War II, Simmons served his country in the US Army.
When the War ended, Simmons opted for greater opportunities in the North and he made a new home for himself in Rochester, like so many others from the South. Here he managed the Rochester American Giants baseball team and coached many youth teams. He married Miss Beatrice Dawkins in 1954. Together they had four children: Wynder, Roxie, Michelle and Dwayne.
Simmons became involved in Republican Party politics when he lived on Scio St. in Rochester's 7th Ward. He was a powerful campaigner, encouraging voter registration, and participation. Simmons campaigned for Caroline Branch to be the first local female judge and when she won the election in 1964, she appointed Simmons to the position of Monroe County Family Court Attendant in 1964. He was the first African American to hold the position. He remained in this position until his retirement in 1988.
Simmons sought to improve the lot of Rochester's African American community by organizing youth activities and agitating for positive change. He also became a professional photographer, documenting, with his business partner George Mitchell, the lives of the community of which he had become so vital a part.
From the online exhibit: "Rocky Simmons (1915-1994) was a dynamic presence in Rochester and an iconic figure in the black community for several decades. He was a gifted athlete, an astute politician, the first African-American Court Attendant in Monroe County, an organizer of youth activities, a professional photographer and much more. He was a man who made things happen for the better. Everyone knew Rocky. He described himself as "the last rock standing."
Rocky Simmons Photographs (D.353):