Anna (Iannello) was the beloved wife of the late George Simmons for 65 years, devoted mother of William H. Simmons & Pamela Pearson of Salem, NH, George H. Simmons, Jr. & Andrea DiFlumeri of Peabody, Pat M. & Helen Simmons of Monroe, CT and MaryLou & Richard Gair of Medfield, loving grandmother of Jason Simmons, Billy Simmons Jr., Stacey Simmons, Kyle and Sammar Simmons, Corey Simmons, Shannon Gair, Kelly Gair and Colleen Gair, great-grandmother of Jenavive Simmons Teleshevsky, cherished daughter of the legendary late Pasquale and Santa (Fiandaca) Iannello, dear sister of Tina & John Centracchio, Loretta & John Townsend, and Carol & Tony Reppucci. Anna is also survived by many loving nieces and nephews.
Anna was born and raised in East Boston and was a lifelong resident of Wilmington, Mass. In her early years, Anna worked to support her immigrant parents, turning over her Cynthia Sweets paycheck to them each week in order to help the family.
She met her husband George (the love of her life) at a YMCA dance. He tapped her on the shoulder asked her if he could have the next dance, and they have been dancing together throughout life ever since.
After raising her four children with George, Anna earned her Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree from Salem State College; long before women her age did so. After receiving her degree, she was promoted from being a secretary in the Wilmington Public Schools to becoming a teacher of English and Business at Wilmington High School. Anna worked in the Wilmington Public School system for over 25 years and strongly believed in education and civic responsibility.
She became involved in the League of Women Voters, the Wilmington Planning Board, the Bargaining Committee, and many other national and locally run organizations. One of her favorite involvements however, was establishing and organizing the Wilmington Dance Party, which held monthly dance parties for well over 25 years. It was the first of its kind, and it was very well attended by dancers of all ages. Anna’s true calling was inspiring others to take action.
She was the first woman to walk down the aisle of Saint Thomas Church without a hat during a time when women were required to cover their heads before entering the church, and she rallied her daughter and her daughter’s friends to wear pants to school on the first day that girls were not required to wear dresses or skirts to public schools. She believed that you had to get into a system in order to change it for the better, and she did. She led by example as she considered the true instrument of change to be our own personal actions. She believed that we needed to take responsibility for our actions and she did. No cause was too small to help and she did it all in a determined, soft-spoken manner with impeccable integrity. The world is a better place for having had her in it, and she will be sorely missed by the those lives she touched.
Family and friends will gather at the Nichols Funeral Home, 187 Middlesex Ave. (Rte. 62), Wilmington, for Visitation on Thursday July 2nd, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. followed by a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Thomas of Villanova Church, 126 Middlesex Ave., Wilmington at 12 noon. Interment Wildwood Cemetery, Wilmington.
In lieu of flowers, Memorial donations in Anna’s name may be made to Greystone Farm at Salem Associate Fund, 242 Main St. Salem, NH 03079.