Gerald Simons (1942-2023): enthusiastic singer, cricketer and Adventist
A lifelong cricketer with a love of song, prominent in Bermuda’s Seventh-day Adventist Church, has been recalled by friends as “unapologetically joyful”.
Gerald Simons Sr, a stalwart of the Commercial Cricket League team Forties, was also a popular ambassador for the island at one of Bermuda’s hotels.
He directed the choir at the Southampton Seventh-day Adventist Church as well as at churches around the island — and was a lead singer in the gospel group The Warrenaires.
Ty Douglas, a sports administrator now living in the United States, said he knew Mr Simons as an uncle — “not in the biological sense, but in the context of growing up”.
“He was ever-present, whether it was in sports spaces or, of course, music.”
A diehard St George’s supporter at Cup Match, Mr Simons was big-hearted in his love of the game.
“He was that person who would share the match with visitors – he didn’t meet a stranger,” Dr Douglas said. “Just as he loved singing, he did everything with a level of enthusiasm that was infectious.
“He was a bit of a trailblazer in that members of the Adventist community back in the day did not participate so much in sports spaces. He was a pioneer.”
Devoutly religious, Mr Simons had an easygoing manner, he said.
Kenneth Manders, president of the Bermuda Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, is a former pastor for the Southampton church where Mr Simons worshipped – and where music was “a vital part of his life”.
Mr Manders said Mr Simons always finished their conversations by telling him “be encouraged”.
“He is a dynamic, vibrant, lovely type of guy – very free-spirited.”
Mr Manders said the Adventists had held a camp meeting last year in which Mr Simons was honoured with a plaque for “his contribution in music and commitment to Christ in song”.
Mr Simons also represented St George’s last year at the first Adventist Church Cup Match held at Shelly Bay — in which the East End took the cup.
The pastor said he had been struck by the kindness of Mr Simons and Dorothea, his late wife, in inviting him to their Cedar Hill home when he returned to the island.
“Even in his dying days, when I saw him, he was still Gerald. Who he was on a good day is who he was on a bad day.”
He added that Mr Simons had been a popular employee at the Rosedon Hotel in Pembroke.
Carlyle Simmons, former executive secretary of the Atlantic Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists, said Mr Simons was “a very sociable, outgoing person — friendly and very honest”.
Dr Simmons said the two played football together in their younger days, but that his love of cricket always stood out.
Mr Simons keenly followed West Indies cricket with his late wife, who died in 2011.
Gordon Campbell, a former captain of Forties, said the island had lost “one of its true characters”.
Mr Simons was “a joker, excellent athlete and supremely fit”, capable of outrunning most of the team into his sixties.
“He was opening bat for the great Rangers teams of the 1960s and 1970s and a key man in the great Forties Commercial League teams for 15 years from 1989.”
Dr Campbell commended him as a “great cover fieldsman, known for timely, gritty knocks as a batsman” who willingly offered advice to older as well as younger players.
“We will miss his impish smile,” he added.
Ivan Clifford, a former team-mate at Forties, said: "Gerald was always full of life and loved his cricket.
“He was a useful batsman and great team player at Forties after he joined. I'd first met him in the Commercial League when he played for St Michael's.
"Later on, he brought his sons Gerald Jr and Rohaan to play for Forties and they proved to be a formidable trio in our line-up.
“In later seasons, Gerald liked to field at cover point, where little got past him, but in the 1989 Safeguard Shield final against Safeguard Security he was keeping wicket for us and I recall him stumping a future premier, Craig Cannonier, off the bowling of our wily off spinner, Clive Cotton.
"Craig walloped the first ball for six and tried to repeat the shot, but Clive tossed up the second one a bit wider with more of a tweak and Gerald whipped off the bails.“
Mr Clifford, a former Assistant Editor at the Mid-Ocean News, added: "Gerald and his wife Dorothea loved their trips to the Caribbean to watch West Indies.
“You could be sure you'd find them sitting in the old Kensington Stand in Barbados in the days when characters such as King Dyal, decked out in his brightly coloured suits, would hold court.
"Gerald loved to call out advice to the players afterwards and he was proud when he was let into the players' changing room after a Test against Australia."
Mr Simons is also survived by his children, Marquita Lee and O'Brian Roberts.
• Gerald St George Simons, an Adventist, cricketer and veteran member of staff at the Rosedon Hotel, was born on May 16, 1942. He died in March 2023, aged 80
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