James E. Simmons, Former WHAV Program Director and Longtime Newspaper Editor, Dies at 95

James E. Simmons. (Courtesy photograph.)

James E. Simmons, of Haverhill, a former WHAV program director, died peacefully last Saturday afternoon at age 95.

Simmons died after a period of declining health at Mary Immaculate Nursing and Restorative Center in Lawrence, surrounded by his loving family.

Born in Haverhill, Dec. 21, 1926, he was the son of the late Percy J. and Ruth G. (Boody) Simmons. He grew up in Amesbury, attending Amesbury schools and graduated from Amesbury High School.

During World War II, he served as a paratrooper with the 11th Airborne Division in the Philippine Islands and Japan and was honorably discharged with the rank of corporal on Nov. 18, 1946.

After his military service he went on to graduate from Clark School, Hanover, N.H., and the National Academy of Broadcasting, Washington D.C.

He went to work for Haverhill radio station WHAV in the early 1950s, eventually becoming program director. He was employed as an announcer at several radio stations in Virginia and Vermont.

He left WHAV to become a reporter and editor at the Haverhill Gazette, succeeding longtime City Hall reporter Leon “Zacks” Bloomfield. He eventually went to work at the Haverhill Independent and the Daily News of Newburyport. In his retirement, Simmons was a writer for the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission.

He is survived by two sons, James Jr. and wife Lee, and John of Amesbury; daughter, Rebecca Barry and husband Michael of Northampton; three grandchildren, Paul Barry and wife Elise, Elantha Barry and husband Jon Wan, and Jason Simmons; six great-grandchildren, Desiree Simmons, Jeremy Blinn, Noah and Hudson Barry, Miles and Aiden Wan; great-great-grandson, Easton Simmons; former wife, Stacia of Amesbury; sister, Alice Bean and husband Stanley, along with several generations of nieces and nephews, extended family and friends. He was predeceased by a sister, Beryl Bagni of Groveland.

Funeral service and burial at Union Cemetery, Amesbury, will be private for the family. Arrangements are by Paul C. Rogers Family Funeral Home, 2 Hillside Avenue, Amesbury.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of James E. Simmons can be made to preventchildabuse.org.

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